The Walking Dead was one of the most talked about comics before it was announced to be getting a TV adaptation on AMC and now season 1, six whole episodes, is in the books and given the excitement of the series we decided to give our season 1 review the roundtable treatment.
Walking Dead: Season 1
GEOFF ARBUCKLE (Walking Dead Reviewer/Marvel Blogger & Editor):
I think most will know how I feel, but I guess as a summary can help me tie all my feelings together. First of all, I haven’t been as excited for a television show in I don’t know how long than I have for this. It’s a type of situation where I almost expected to be let down because my excitement was through the roof. But before the show came out, I took a step back and realized a few things before going in.
Knowing this was going to be adapted from the first six issues, I started to think about what to expect. I realized that I didn’t necessarily want it to be a panel by panel, page to page adaptation. That would have been uninspired and boring. Now I didn’t want it to go too far off the path, but I knew there would be some differences. So, when there were new characters introduced and a little bit of tweaking with some of the character’s personalities, like making Andrea a bit stronger from the get go, I was cool with it. I know there are going to be people on all sorts of sides of this topic, but I let the story, the mood, and the acting take me on the ride. I stopped worrying about how things were going to play out because I knew what ended up happening and just had a great time watching it play out.
As far as the actors chosen, this show met the challenge of finding people who could understand their characters and the overall mood of the series. You have Rick’s leadership and overall good guy demeanor, Shane’s insecurities and jealousy, Dale’s ability to look at things with experience and a fairly calm attitude. I especially liked Norman Reedus as Daryl. His addition brought a spark to the cast because of his short fuse.
Ultimately, what made this first season great wasn’t what images stayed the same or what was added, but what makes this as great a comic as the best of the zombie movies (which for my money is the original Dawn of the Dead) – it’s about the people surviving in such an awful time. It’s not about how many zombies we can see blown up or decapitated or how many zombies we see eating someone’s guts. It’s all about the struggles of those trying to live and facing the dangers and their own extinction with every minute of every day. Frank Darabont’s ability to keep that in tact is what drove the show for me.
JOHN BARRINGER (Batman Blogger/Editor):
Walking Dead Season 1 was fun and entertaining to watch, but in a lot of ways it exemplified everything I hate about adapting for film or television. One of the most appealing elements to The Walking Dead in it’s original form for me were the unique characters and watching them develop and change along with a story that was unlike anything I’d read before and kept me wondering what would happen in the next page. In this television series though a lot of the characters are either missing completely or changed, and replaced with what felt like cliché roles or experiences I’ve witnessed before – wife beating husband, hardcore chick who knows how to use a gun, jumping in the air with big explosions behind you, talking computer – all things that were added to the story to sacrifice something in the original. I respect diverging away from the original story but the television experience just wasn’t nearly as fulfilling as the reading experience. For me.
Perhaps I’m taking it too personally though; allowing my bias for the original to spoil the show a little.
Truth is, I almost cried when Rick reunited with his family and my heart was pounding almost out of my chest in the final episode. So to say I wasn’t entertained or that it didn’t move me would be an oversight. And after all that were kinda back to square one; the crew is on the road with Atlanta in the review mirror. For all we know the Wiltshire Estates could be gang’s next stop.
My biggest takeaway is to stop comparing the show to the comic; same as with anything adapted, they’ll never be the same thing. And really, they shouldn’t be. Right?
MASON MOYER (Green Lantern Blogger/Reviewer):
So The Walking Dead left me with one feeling in particular: satisfaction. It was a total thrill ride from beginning to end, with amazing acting and wonderful writing. That having been said, it surprises me that the writers of Season One have been fired.
One of the biggest factors that contributes to The Walking Dead’s great tone and amazing characterization is it’s format. A TV show fits the tone of the books and it’s theme completely, and AMC is a network that knows how drama and can completely deliver on this series from episode to episode. Overall, when the second season premieres next Halloween, I for one will be watching. Will you?
PHILLIP CARSON (Superman Blogger/Editor):
Having only read the first two volumes of the comic, I knew enough about the series to know when the show started going “off script” and began using original material. I was concerned at first, since I had so much respect for Robert Kirkman. But I soon realized that I had nothing to worry about.
Walking Dead has consistently been the best show of the season. I hate to use a cliche like “on the edge of my seat,” but that’s exactly what the series did. Every episode left me emotionally drained, to the point that I was glad there was a week in between episodes so that I could recuperate.
And more often than not, it was the humans that scared me more than the zombies. Walking Dead trades on a lot of same themes as the classic Twilight Zone episodes, such as “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street.” Like Rod Serling before them, Kirkman and Frank Darabont raise the question “Who’s really the monster here?” The best fantasy stories use an outrageous premise to sugarcoat a story that really about the harsh truths of real life, and this show has done that to an amazing degree. It deserves all the success it’s received.
T.A. EWART (Superman Reviewer/Blogger):
I was disappointed by the series thus far. It was too short. Six episodes is just not enough to get going with this type of story. It started well, and I’m asking for an exact comic play-by-play, but it lost its potency by the third episode. There was too much attention placed on the hick character (stereotype), and most of the other characters lacked the compelling interest they generated in the comic.
I also had a problem with the lack of non-white characters, and the self-immolation of the only black female on the show. This is a recurring motif in nihilistic settings like The Walking Dead. The world is going to hell, but somehow there are still more white people than anyone else. Guess zombies have a preference. I’m looking forward to the next season, despite my feelings about this one, if only to see the handless hick’s revenge.
VICTOR KUTSENOK (Reviewer/Blogger):
Awesome. That is the best work I can use to describe the series. As a rabid fan of the comic book series, it was a dream come true to see some of my favorite characters come to life. The casting was phenomenal. These actors are so spot on it’s mind blowing. It’s like seeing the artwork jump off the page and come to life. I cannot praise the actors enough.
Storywise, season 1 came directly from the first few issues of the comic, but with many new twists and turns. I really enjoyed episode one because it really brought me back to when I read issue #1 of Walking Dead for the first time. Every image in the comic was put on screen. It gave me chills when the scene would reflect the book. Outside of the comic, the new characters and hardships that Rick had to endure added a lot of depth to the story. I like Merle. He seems like one mean dude who you do not want to mess with. I’m sure we’ll be seeing him again. Surprisingly, Daryl is my favorite new character. He has all of Merle’s anger and survival instinct but with enough sense to be a team player than a rebel. I was not a fan of the CDC episode. I really think it was a wasted episode because it really did not give any revelations as to the cause of the zombies. The only positive is that is increased the tension between Lori and Shane and set the stage for Dale and Andrea’s future.
Overall, the episodes were great to watch. There was comedy, humor, tension, love, action, and excitement. Plenty of emotions to keep your pulse racing at all times. Not to mention the amazing make-up jobs on the zombies. They really looked great. I cannot wait for this series to return so we can continue watching these people collapse from within and strive to survive in a world that does not tolerate survivors. That’s my opinion folks. Take it or leave it.