Tuesday, December 10, 2013
The Walking Dead (Seasons 1-3, Netflix)
Review: I suddenly decided to get back into The Walking Dead. Several years ago, probably around midway of season 2, I tried to get into The Walking Dead but I didn't make it past the second episode. It was mostly because I didn't really understand what I was seeing and, perhaps, I wasn't really in the right mindset. I really enjoyed the first episode and most of the second episode but when Lori has sex with Shane and then is shown living this seemingly idyllic life out in the country while her husband is covered in gore trying desperately to survive and find her and their son. I saw that and I thought "Great, this is going to be episode after episode of this guy getting figuratively kicked in the nuts looking for his family while his family lives on like he never existed. Then he's going to find them and he'll move on because they don't need him anymore." It also made me immediately hate Lori because if I were in her situation, and in fact it is shown, in those two episodes, that if Rick were in her situation he would be celibate out of respect to the fallen spouse. I don't know why it made me so mad but it did. So I just decided that this show wasn't for me.
Meanwhile I see Rick and Michonne action figures at Toy's R Us and they just looked so bad ass. I read Wikipedia entries and when I was doing a lot of traveling is when The Walking Dead really exploded and every single bookstore in every airport I went to had tons of Walking Dead books. So I was really bombarded with The Walking Dead and I eventually bought the trade paperback where Michonne was introduced because I thought she'd be introduced in the most bad ass way possible. It was actually a pretty boring book, it might be more exciting if I read everything up until that point but I didn't so whatever.
Which it brings me to Saturday when I decided to pick it up again and now it's 2am Tuesday morning and I just finished season 3 and I have to say I was wrong. Of course by the next episode the whole tone changes and Rick is reunited with his family and Lori somewhat redeems herself and the things change rapidly and things continue to change at a pretty rapid pace.
I have to say I really like the core group of characters. There's a lot of character growth from season 1 to 3. Rick and Carl Grimes have reverse arcs that seem pretty natural and well paced. As Rick loses his innocence and hope and becomes withdrawn Carl, his son, tries to be optimistic, reach out to people and be a kid. Then as Rick regains his innocence and starts to reconnect with humanity Carl starts to pull away and he becomes colder until Carl just straight up kills a person in cold blood. Every member of the core group comes across as real people with both good and bad qualities who are relatively nuanced. And Daryl kicks ass.
The plot is well paced and when it ramps up the tension it really ramps it up to almost unbearable levels. Everyone is fair game for the zombies, a lot of barely defined, one dimensional cannon fodder get taken out by the zombies but several main characters get taken out with very little build up. One minute they're there and the next minute they die an incredibly gory, emotional death. Speaking of the gore the gore effects are pretty incredible as well. It's pretty, disturbingly, realistic and can be hard to watch just because of how gruesome the effects are.
The negatives are few but they are there. Carl Grimes is a pretty snotty kid at times and it can be very hard to like him. There were several moments where I just wanted to slap him. Lori Grimes had her terrible moments as well where she seems pretty self centered. She get's mad at Rick for holding a secret when she, and the audience, know that she's holding a much bigger, more impacting, secret. So as an audience member I was just seething at her just because she was just so bitchy. Two characters fall in love almost instantly, there is really nothing to foreshadow this but then they are a couple for so long that you start to forget how sudden the relationship was and it becomes a pretty sweet and real connection between two people. The concept of the group becoming separated, then drama surrounding that separation happen a lot as well. It seems to be the main trope that they use whenever they need to inject some easy drama and sudden plot elements.
All in all it's a very a good series. It took me on quite a ride and although I don't currently have cable it seems that I can watch it on the AMC website, otherwise it's going to be a long wait for me until season 4 comes to Netflix. I realize I'm pretty late to this game so I'm probably already preaching to the choir but if you haven't checked it out, season 1 is only six episodes and if you can't get into it by the end of that first season I don't think it would get better for you. This is really something you have to watch from the start so everything has meaning later, there's really quite a bit of character building that tapers off in later episodes so you need to be there for that character building or everything loses its impact later when traits become more subtle. If you haven't already, take an afternoon and at least check out the first season.