The Walking Dead Episode 1 capped Halloween ceremonies on TV. In addition, The Walking Dead Episode 1 may have helped build a new franchise for AMC. The network has already made viewers fall in love with ’60s ad men and a cancer-stricken meth dealer. Audiences already have a built-in love affair with zombies as well, although their fame has been limited to movies. But AMC has once again made unlikely subject matter into a TV hit – assuming that Episode 1 of The Walking Dead is not a fluke.
Warning: Spoilers follow
Once again, the world has been zombiefied, with the last remaining humans running for their lives. Like in 28 Days Later,one man has been in a coma through it all and has just come out of it to see the ruins. But in this case, the man is a local sheriff’s deputy, who eventually makes his way to a supposed safe haven in Atlanta.
With Episode 1, zombies have taken their place among vampires and werewolves on television. Like traditional zombies, these ones are very slow “Walkers” and appear easy to kill – at least when they’re not in groups. But since this is an AMC show, and since it is being helmed by Frank Darabont, things are done a little differently this time.
With Darabont writing and directing the pilot, critics hailed the theatrical look of the opening. Since it is 90 minutes long, he has plenty of time to establish it. But with the relative lack of a musical score, discovering the new world, and the horrible creatures in it, is all the more haunting.
To establish this world, The Walking Dead presents sights like a zombiefied little girl in the cold opening, a legless zombie woman, a survivor struggling to put down his zombie wife, and an overrun city of the dead. But although former deputy Rick Grimes seems to be all alone, those he knew in his old life are still out there.
Critics raved about the pilot, which made the second episode more of a letdown for them by comparison. While The Walking Dead Episode 1 may have hooked viewers as well, the show has to prove that this genre can last on TV. Although this premise has been done in two-hour movies before, can it sustain itself for 13 hours a season?
Not only does the show have to live up to past zombie movies, it must also take its place among the other AMC hits. Since those hits are Mad Men and Breaking Bad, that is more of an intimidating task. But the network has made unlikely subject matter into critical and commercial hits before.
Now that The Walking Dead has had its big premiere, the next 12 episodes will come each Sunday night at 10 p.m. est on AMC.
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