Mel and I just finished watching the pilot episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead. You might remember it from last fall, when it was one of the most successful and talked about new shows of the season. I think it was her 3rd viewing, and my 5th. It was also her first viewing since reading the trades. I’ve read all 14 that have been released, but Mel’s dragged her feet on reading volume 14. We’re working our way through the series again in preparation and excitement for the start of Season 2, on Oct. 16.
Read what we thought of the show’s first episode, “Days Gone Bye”, after the jump…
Fair warning: This shit is going to get spoilery. If you haven’t watched the whole first season, or read at least the first trade of the comic books, you may not want to read any further. And did I just use the term “after the jump”? Ugh… Someone slap me. Don’t ever let me do that again.
Things We Agree On:
This show opens with a bang. Right from the get-go, the series is telling you, “Look, folks… this shit is serious, and we’re not fucking around. If you think you’re getting funny zombies, go watch Dead-Alive again.” One of my major concerns when I heard they were adapting TWD for TV was whether or not they’d have the balls to do what needs to be done. I’m pretty sure shooting a little girl in the head answers that question pretty fucking quick.
|This ain’t Sesame Street.
From there we jump into the opening credits. Mel is always particularly impressed by them. They do a great job of setting the tone. I agree. It feels very eerie. True Blood and Gane of Thrones might be the only better credit reels going these days.
Once the credits wrap we come to our first gripe of the season… The conversation between Shane and Rick in their squad car takes too fucking long. At least it does the first time you watch it. After seeing the whole series play out (and reading the comics) this scene becomes much more interesting than the first time you watch it. It lays a groundwork for the characters that is much needed. It also shows several ways that this story is going to be different from the comic. The only problem is it does it too slowly. Shane’s asshole diatribe isn’t quite interesting enough, and the scene really slows the pacing of the show down to a new viewer. The same pacing problem appears in other spots throughout the episode, but never quite as bad, and once it really picks up again after Rick and Morgan leave the police station it never really lets up.
|On the road again…
Just can’t wait to get back on the road again…
Speaking of after the police station… I’m pretty sure there are several critics of directors like Zack Snyder that would love to show them the scene where Rick heads back to the zombie he found near the bicycle, or the hospital sequence. They are fantastic examples of how you can use a comic as a storyboard, and let your audience see each comic frame, without using bullet time effects, or otherwise stopping time. (The Zombiephiles has a neat article showing some side by side character comparisons.) Of course, the visual effects, zombie make up and acting are all fantastic. You can clearly see that everyone involved in this show really cares about making it as great as they can.
Another great aspect is how this episode somehow manages to simultaneously stick to the storyline of the source material, but play with it slightly to create some surprises even for the people who have read the comics. Every change made in this episode, particularly Rick and Lori’s rocky marriage and Shane and Lori clearly having more than just a grief-stricken one night stand, are all great, and really add to the tensions that should be coming later on.
Things We Didn’t Agree On:
Mel thought that, for the amount of time Morgan spent saying how attracted to sound the zombies are, and how much he beats himself up for firing his gun in the street, neither He nor Rick really seem to give that much of a shit about it. They both seem to take any and every opportunity to fire off a round into everything they can. This really bothered her, given that she not that long ago read Abraham’s (a character that comes much later in the comics) tirade on stationary camps and gunfire. It didn’t bother me that much… I guess I don’t mind it because early Rick is a dumbfuck when it comes to zombie common sense. And as far as Morgan goes, I kinda thought that TVs Morgan has given up by the time he starts his sniping spree.
Mel also really enjoyed re-watching the end of the episode. She said that even though she knew how it was going to turn out, it was still really tense. I don’t really feel the tension of the scene anymore… but I do still think Rick putting the gun to his head and noticing the hole in the tank is awesome. One of the best moments in the show, really. That whole scene is one of those new additions that really work for both the fans of the comics and the newcomers, I think.
I remember a lot of people who didn’t know any better shouting “Ripoff” when the show was first airing, over the fact that Rick wakes up alone in the hospital. Supposedly the scenes were written independently around the same time, like some kind of crazy zombie Calculus. I say, “Who gives a fuck?”. The idea of it goes back much further than 28DL. The Quiet Earth has an world ending scene involving a guy waking up to a deserted world too. Not to mention all the various forms “The Last Man on Earth” has taken on screen. Seeing a Ripoff Card played so quickly, and so poorly researched, drives me up the fucking wall.
Even after 5 viewings, this episode of the show is still strong enough to make both Mel and I excited to watch more of it. Great acting, great effects, great story and some of the best direction ever on the small screen. The Walking Dead‘s first episode is definitely some of the best stuff ever shown on television.
|I’d give it two thumbs up,
but the other one rotted off.