I think that at this point “The Walking Dead” is a pretty widely recognized name; most people can identify that it’s a TV show based on a comic series about a group of people surviving the zombie apocalypse.
And maybe it’s just the crowd of people I hang out with, but the opening scene from this show (and comic) is also very well recognized. Not the girl being shot, though that was a pretty intense and powerful way to start the show; no, I mean when Rick Grimes wakes up from a coma in a hospital sometime after the zombie outbreak began.
Then season two rolled around. I, like many fans, wanted often to ditch this show during its often dull and pointless second season. But I couldn’t do it. One, I really, really wanted to know what would happen to the shrinking number of survivors at that point. Two, I knew this show had a lot of problems in its second season: it had half its budget to make twice as many episodes, all while its creator and director was stepping down. I ultimately spent each week of the season hoping the show would get back on its feet (and no, I'm not making a zombie joke out of that line).
And now, we have season three. And all I can say is, “I FORGIVE YOU, SEASON 2.” It’s hard to discuss the show now without spoiling, well, everything that’s happened, ever. So I’ll keep it simple: the drama is great and used appropriately rather than constantly, there are new surprises and twists coming at us hard and fast, plus the setting is exciting and the villain is despicably charismatic and entertaining.
Wait, you say? A villain? But aren’t the zombies the villains? Well, no. See, one of the reasons I enjoy this show as much as I do is that while the zombies are there, it’s the people living in a lawless land that survivors must primarily fear. Trust is definitely a commodity, and a rare one at that. A second reason I enjoy this show so much is the fact that it ignores the actual zombie outbreak and goes straight into what happens after it. Because admit it: in most zombie movies, you see a group of survivors fighting during the actual rise of the zombie hoard. They escape, and then they go…where? The story stops. But wait. Now what? I mean, the survivors will have to deal with the trauma of what they’ve seen, number one. Number two, their entire society is often destroyed by that point. So…now what? In many ways, “The Walking Dead” is the answer to this question, which plagues the majority of the zombie genre.
(And by the way: while I know this is not the format used in all zombie movies, before people give me examples of ones that deviate from this formula: no, “28 Days Later” is not a zombie movie. It doesn’t count because it’s not about corpses coming back to life, so don’t use it as an example to contradict my statement. Good? Good.)
So that’s why, despite its short-lived shortcomings, I continue to love “The Walking Dead.” It surprises me that I do to this day, because, well, I really do hate zombies! But still, I can’t deny what this show has: a wonderful cast, a character driven story that the writers have taken from an original source and made their own, and a very exciting setting. In other words: it has everything I want from a TV show, and these factors are what let me overcome my usual hatred of the zombie genre. Admittedly, to many people who can't get into this show, it may just be a soap opera with walking corpses, but if that’s the case, I'd say it’s definitely the best soap opera made to date, and I am not complaining.