The Walking Dead has AMC making TV history once again. Although The Walking Dead isn’t typical AMC programming, and although it tackles an old genre, it is one that hasn’t been tried on TV before. Zombies are established movie stars, thanks to George Romaro, Danny Boyle and the various comedic spoofs of the genre. But zombies have never carried a television series before, as there seems to be only so much they can do for 13 weeks. Yet the AMC Walking Dead are set to give it a try, and are already succeeding with critics.
The show has more of a pedigree than one might expect, as it is based on a graphic novel, and is being helmed by an Oscar nominated director. Frank Darabont moves away from Stephen King prison adaptations, as a producer and director of the pilot episode.
The Walking Dead is also the fourth TV show in AMC history, which has set a high bar as it is. Mad Men and Breaking Bad got the network off to a soaring start, yet Rubicon was met with low ratings this summer, and is still on the bubble. But if Rubicon was the first mixed bag for the network, this series may help them make a quick recovery.
Critics who have seen the pilot and the second episode have raved about them, as they do for most AMC offerings. On Meta Critic, the show has an average rating of 86 from 17 critics, with only one mixed score.
People, TV Guide and the Wall Street Journal gave perfect ratings, placing The Walking Dead on the AMC pantheon already. Although zombie movies aren’t always critical favorites, this zombie TV series may be worthy of Night Of The Living Dead/28 Days Later status.
Critics cite the giant scale of the opening episodes, and even have praise for moments that don’t involve zombies. Matt Roush states that “We actually root for many of the people we find living” which stands to make a big difference. AMC has made fans root for cheating ad men and crystal meth cookers, so sympathy for hunted humans shouldn’t be as difficult.
If The Walking Dead becomes the new AMC hit, it will break a bit of the hold that vampires have on television. They headline True Blood and The Vampire Diaries, while even werewolves have room to be on True Blood and Twilight. But zombies have been left behind in the latest horror monster crazes, although they may not go at their usual slow pace anymore.
Of course, The Walking Dead premiere had to take place on Halloween, but the series hopes to carry momentum into the less scary holidays. The 90 minute pilot premieres tonight at 10 pm est on AMC.
Meta Critic- “The Walking Dead”
TV Guide- “Roush Review: Zombie Terror Alert!”