Monday, November 1, 2010

The Walking Dead: Season 1 Episode 1 - Days Gone Bye (Quick Thoughts)

Has an hour and a half of a brand new TV show ever flown by so quickly and at the same time couldn't come soon enough? That may sound like a dig at the new comic-book horror adaptation, The Walking Dead but for this genre, has to be the ultimate compliment! I'm no horror movie buff or Zombie aficionado (though I did love Zombieland and still am waiting for LOST's "Zombie Season 7!"). Horror films, for me, are either unintentionally comical or they totally freak me out!  But, The Walking Dead seems to be a dark character drama in disguise as a horror series. Yes, I am borrowing some words from EW's Doc Jensen and Dan Snierson and their glowing back and forth review, but they're absolutely right. Don't get me wrong, this show definitely scared the crap out of me! (had to find a comedy on the TiVo before bed or else I'd be having some wacky dreams)  The THRILLER aspect of the show is a given, but we already have some very intriguing character dynamics at play that have only begun to unfold. I'm already sold and want to see the next chapter in this 6 episode season!

Anyway, back to my initial comment.  This past Sunday was full of "TV so good and suspenseful you could barely watch because it made you so nervous!"   That was how I felt about the 1-2 punch of Dexter and The Walking Dead last night.  Just a fantastic 2.5 hours of television.  But, we're not here to discuss Dexter (unless you want to in the comments. I'm game!).   Our purpose here is to welcome a new show to our lives.  And quite possibly, in doing so, we are welcoming a new LEGEN-wait for it-........DARY show!   So, what better way than to share yet another QUICK THOUGHTS column?  Here we go!

  • Great Intro scene with Nick Grimes stopping at the scene of an accident and slowly unveiling a much wider epidemic at play. They threw us right into the middle of the Zombie Apocalypse before rewinding and sharing with us the exposition. The creepy girl, the graphic head shot. Frank Darabount was showing us, right off the bat what we're in for. I was upset though, lots of head shots in the episode but no Double-Taps! (Zombieland fans anyone?)  
  • The entire PRE-ZOMBIE INVASION scene did some very powerful build-up. We got a character introduction to our main man Nick and his partner Shane and their spousal problems. Shane was very open and profane when speaking about his wife. Nick was more reserved but clearly has some issues with his wife and her open disdain for him in front of their child. This scene combined with what we see in the POST-ZOMBIEVASION convinced me that the Shane/Lori affair has been going on for quite some time. Even BEFORE the Zombie thing. Possibly before Nick's accident too. And welcome Sarah Wayne Callies back to television folks! (Prison Break's Sarah) It's been too long.
  • Of course the car chase was awesome, leading to an eventual shoot-out where Nick gets shot in the vest and then shot in the flesh putting him in a "who knows how long?" coma. The point is, that HE is unaware of what has happened just like the audience. So we all will find out together. (of course, we do know what is going on with his wife!)
  • Okay, I assume that Lori and Shane just figured the hospital was taken over by Zombies so Nick was also killed. But, why wasn't he killed? Why did the zombies never go in that one room of the hospital? Probably questions that are not meant to really be asked. The same as the other question that I would love to be answered but never will be....what caused the Zombie outbreak?? Answer: Just accept that it happened and now we have to deal with it.
  • Nick's escape from the hospital was great and painful to watch. The Zombies behind the door is already a classic image that has been associated with the show and is even present on this blog's current wallpaper. The corpses all around the hospital and military vehicles told all the story that needed to be told. It explained to us what we all missed in these months that Nick has been sleeping. Great, powerful stuff.
  • The crawling torso zombie in the park was pretty freaky too.
  • I gotta say...I know I'd be upset if I got to my house and my wife and kid were not there after seeing a bunch of zombies have ransacked the world....but wouldn't you take like maybe 1 minute to go and get a change of clothes out of the drawer? AND SHOES? I guess maybe he thought he wasn't going anywhere. But I would be grabbing some clothes and would go back out looking for them. Not sure where I'd go but I wouldn't be sitting around moping! Anyway, it worked out for him because he was able to get knocked in the head with a shovel by Duane. Great shot kid that was one in a million!
  • The dynamic duo of Duane and Morgan is a good time. And it was a good way to get Nick up to speed on what was going on. And of course, adding in the crazy fact that the wife/mother became ill and Morgan had to kick her out of the house they had taken as their own. Now, her zombie self keeps coming up to the door and trying to get back to the one familiar human part of her. This had to be the freakiest of the zombies because there was a bit of a character story attached to her. And of course watching Duane squirm didn't help matters. Watching Morgan try to come to grips with shooting his former wife in the head was very painful. And ultimately he could not. So, Zombie experts, do we think there is any cure for this outbreak? Or is kill or be killed, regardless of who the zombie is? I'm guessing the latter, but I have to save an ounce of optimism, right?
  • I will agree with Doc Jensen that the 2 and 1/2 men showering in the police station was an awkward moment...especially with Duane being so excited about it! And that is all I will say.
  • The walkie talkie thing was a good idea for Nick to get in touch with Morgan every morning for when they'll eventually meet up. Of course, would the range on those really work from Kentucky to Atlanta? Maybe I missed something.
  •  Obviously the final scene of Nick and his horse marched into Atlanta was very powerful stuff. The jammed cars with no signs of life on the other side of the highway and Nick marching in. Already not a good sign. Loved that he ran into 3 walkers and figured he could handle them only to turn the corner on a FLEET of them! And that's when we saw the "RUNNING DEAD!" These aren't your average every day, slow as molasses zombies. They are hungry and they moved quickly to their pray. Nick was trapped and lost his poor horse! I really thought the horse was going to be as big of a character as Nick after the whole PACT he made with him. NOPE, he's a goner. We have graphically visual confirmation folks!
  • I really thought when Nick escaped (or rather put himself in a worse situation) into the tank that he was going to somehow turn that thing on and start shooting his way free. And hey, maybe he will in the end. But, for now the big question is...who is the voice calling him an idiot on the CB? Is he the key to Nick's salvation from the tank? Yeah, probably.
  • Even though Nick's escape seems imminent, it did not take away from the ever-growing Birdseye shot of Atlanta and masses of the Walking Dead honing on on Nick and the remains of his horse. I want to use a word, but am afraid due to it being overused these days by everyone and their mother's uncle. Here goes: EPIC!!!!! (yep, not try seeing that word without thinking about this!)
A great start to a great new show. 6 episodes seems like so little, but it reminds me of another AMC show that had a short order for its first season: Breaking Bad (7 episodes) These are shows with some pretty deep/dark material. Less is not always a bad thing. And if it went any longer than 6 episodes, we'd be watching Zombies at Christmas! (That's too Tim Burton-esque for me!) Anyway, I really enjoyed our first foray into The Walking Dead. And I look forward to the coming episodes! I look forward to your thoughts on the show as well. No EVENT this week, but I'll be back with a FRINGE-Recap in the Thursday/Friday time frame. See you then!


AUStarwars said...

Personally I loved the show, because as a massive fan of World War Z (which you NEED to read i keep telling you!) and not really a horror fan, its good to see this everyman take on the zombie apocalypse...too much is usually based at the "government" level, or the military level, so its good to see it from the everyman "learn with the character" human story element...

Clearly the whole time they will drop hints as to what is going on with the Military (like why they arent around for example lol) and whether the time frame of the Coma was a month, 3 mos, 6 mos a year, whatever, do we even know??...I would have to think that even when we see the Prologue that SOMEONE at the government level was aware that some type of zombie plague was going on and they were trying to contain it..i just dont think 3-6 mos. is enough time for all this to happen..

it was a huge example of "sci fi not exisiting in a sci fi universe" (ie. there is no World War Z in the universe of The Walking Dead obviously)..i mean trust me, Id still be scared of walking corpses, especially if i was out of it for months and then woke up to a zombie apocolypse..but still...

There is no cure if this is the normal "zombie virus" (re: World War Z) because the "host" has to die before the virus reanimates the host to a by definition the person is dead..remember a zombie doesnt actually "die", its central nervous system is just destroyed so it cant move can burn them to death and whatever, crush them to "death", whatever..

i thought it was entertaining and a good worried about its crossover appeal to "non dorks" because of the subject matter, so im hoping they continue to push some sort of human angle

Mike V. said...

@AUSW - I will get to WWZ eventually. Just not enough time right now! The way you explain the EVERYMAN element it makes me think of the Speilberg/Cruise War of the Worlds vehicle where we barely had any input from the government...just Tom Cruise.

I don't really know how long the coma could have possibly been. I didn't think his shooting injury looked THAT serious to put him in this year-long coma...but what do I know? I figured 3 months. Maybe it was a year...but a good indication for how long it may have been would be the age of his son. I mean he didn't look THAT old, did he? How old could he have been a year ago where he would be worried about his son understanding arguments between him and Lori? I dunno...could be me looking way too deep into that. I figured a few months was a reasonable amount of time to think that the military got involved and they tried to contain it.

I would agree with you that there will be no cure for this zombie virus since they ARE dead. So it's pretty much a survival tale and possibly an extermination of the zombies and reboot of the human race tale. And I'm all for that! But it will probably make for some emotional times along the way.

AMC has introduced us to some fabulous character dramas with "human angles". I have faith that they will continue to push that with their new show. I just hope they can keep up the intense momentum and standard that Frank Darabount set with his direction of the pilot. Big shoes to fill!

Anonymous said...

I thought that The Walking Dead premier was fantastic! I found the story to be great and attention holding. The action is intense. It reminded me of the film 28 Days Later.
I thought that the characters showed a great range of acting ability. I connected with the Rick, the sheriff; Morgan, the dad; and Duane, his son, immediately. I could connect with their feelings of loss of the world they knew and the horrors they were forced to deal with hour by hour. I was particularly touched by the scene in which Morgan finally shoots his zombie wife. This was the only way he could lay his beloved wife to rest and to release her body from the virus that was ravaging it.
I did wonder how the back-up generator at the hospital could keep the emergency lightning on for more than a week yet there was no power for the elevator. I also thought it was strange that the grass in the park and on the lawns of the homes was not taller since it would not have been mown in months. Also, I question how the “zombie virus” which can only reanimate dead people can infect the living people through open wounds such as bites or from splattering of blood (Rick wore a full face mask when dispatching a zombie using a club). Morgan seemed very concerned how Rick had received his injuries.
I definitely will be watching this series.

Mike V. said...

@Dee - Totally agree that the premiere was great, obviously! 28 Days later is another good one that I forgot about. I guess I may have seen more Zombie flicks than I recall lol Wait a sec....did Morgan actually shoot his wife? I thought he tried 2 times but never could get the shot off?

Good call with the back-up generator lol And also a good point about the lawns! I guess that's one of those things that are just more visually pleasing for TV if the grass is mowed lol I didn't see many lawn mowers on LOST ISLAND either but there were some nicely groomed grassy plains there too! lol

I think Morgan was concerned about Shane (I thought it was Shane not Rick?) getting his wound from a BITE. I think he actually brings that up eventually. The Zombie BITE is what infects the living. But I may have gotten that wrong.

Oh yeah...I'm hooked on this one. Can't wait for next Sunday!

Anonymous said...

Hello MikeV,
You are correct. Morgan’s inability to pull the trigger on his zombified wife was absolutely crushing. Rick Grimes is a deputy sheriff and his partner is Shane Walsh, who is currently in the survivor camp with Rick’s wife, Lori, and her son, Carl. It is the zombie bite that infects the living.
I am looking forward to the next episode.

Mike V. said...

Hi Dee, thank you so much for correcting my huge blunders! I think I was rushing through this post so quickly that when I looked at IMDB I just figured the first 2 characters listed were the two cop partners (with Nick's character being listed first lol) Anyway, it's all fixed in the post now! And if it wasn't for these comments, no one would ever know :-)

Anonymous said...

I am wondering why the zombies did not attack Rick while he lay in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital. Could the fact that Rick was in a coma be the reason he was spared? He would have appeared dead to the zombies. I noticed that the zombies never attack and devour each other. They attack non-infected humans and animals. I still feel sorry for the horse in episode one.

Rick would have been motionless, thus not making any noise. Morgan said that sounds attract the zombies. Also, Rick could not speak. Morgan said the zombies could not speak. Perhaps zombies recognize each other by smell. Since the zombie is a person who died and is reanimated, I would think it would have a stench the other zombies and the humans could smell at a great distance.

Mike V. said...

Hey Dee,

I was wondering the same thing about Rick not being attacked or why that room was left alone. That's possible that he appeared dead...but I'm not sure Zombies care if people appear dead (or even realize this)....I think they just like to feast on flesh, but I am in no way an expert! You could be right about the motionless/no noise aspect....could be like the T-Rex, they respond to sound and movement. (or at least they did in Jurassic Park!) That seems to make the most sense. But was there no one else in comas in this hospital??? Are they still in there and alive?

Probably questions that the writers never really intended us to ask!

Anonymous said...

Hello Mike V,
Although there were other patients in the hospital with a coma, I am certain Rick was the only patient in a coma with a nasty gunshot wound to the abdomen. When Morton changed the dressing after Rick had been knocked unconscious by Duane, he remarked how rank the bandages smelled. So while in the hospital room, Rick would have been motionless, speechless, and smelled like the dead. Perhaps this is why the zombies did not enter his hospital room. The room looked as if no one, human or zombie, had entered for a week. The get-well cards were neatly arranged on the table by the door and the flowers were dried and withered.
On the other hand, his wife, Lori, and partner, Shane, will have some explaining to do when they and Rick meet up. Why would Lori take extra clothing for her and Carl as well as the pictures and photo albums and not attempt to get her husband out of the hospital? The only reason I can think of is that someone she trusted told her that Rick was dead.

Mike V. said...

Dee that all makes sense about Rick being in the coma. But I agree, not sure why they wouldn't have gone back for Rick in the hospital. But, I just assumed that THEY assumed he was probably dead. But, yeah it would be more interesting if Shane lied and told Lori he was dead. It would add a little more drama to their little arrangement. Looking forward to tonight!

Anonymous said...

Hello Mike,
I watched the pilot episode again. I have one more thought as to why the zombies did not enter Rick’s hospital room. As Rick tried to leave the room once he had regained consciousness, there was a hospital bed blocking the door. He had to push the door open and the bed aside in order to exit the room.
Perhaps someone had brought the bed to evacuate him from the room before the firefight broke out. Perhaps this person was the now dead, partially-eaten nurse we saw in the hospital corridor. Maybe Shane or one of the other deputies tried to rescue Rick. When faced with the horde of zombies already in the hospital, the person shoved the bed in front of Rick’s room to block the door so the zombies would not enter the room. I know this sounds like a meager defense but that was really the only thing the person could do at that time. I wonder if the deputy who did this was Leon. He did appear later as a zombie and Rick “put him down” with a shot to the head from his Colt Python revolver. I also wonder if this person thought to contain the zombies in the cafeteria by chaining the doors shut and shoving the piece of lumber through the door handles. He/she then wrote on the doors “Do Not Open-Dead Inside”. I am looking forward to tonight’s episode.

Anonymous said...

I’m getting more and more psyched for the next season of The Walking Dead all the time. It’s getting close and this time around I’ll be able to watch it as it goes instead of letting it pile up on my DVR. Perhaps I should explain: I travel a lot so I’m often out of town when it airs but being a DISH Network employee / subscriber I heard about DISH’s TV everywhere technology and picked it up. With this nifty piece of technology I can stream any and all of my programming anywhere I go to a variety of mobile devices (I generally use my iPad or my laptop). It’s pretty cool to be able to take my entertainment with me like that, so I can watch my programming in the hotel rooms instead of being at the mercy of whatever that particular room has available. And to make it even better DISH is currently offering the Sling Adapter (the piece of equipment needed for this service) free! Check it out here: