This autumn one of the most epic events ever to unfold for zombie lovers will take place: a zombie TV series, and a promising one, at that. There’s never been a better time to fall in love with zombies. (See what I did there? Autumn? “Fall” in love? Get it?)
I am of course speaking of the much-anticipated The Walking Dead, which will air on AMC at 10pm ET on Halloween night. If you’ve been following my writing here you’ll notice a trend, as I’ve lauded The Walking Dead in virtually every comic and television-related post I’ve done. So right off the bat you’re aware I’m terribly biased, but I’m biased for good reason. The Walking Dead absolutely rocks, and I’m far from alone in that sentiment.
The Walking Dead is one of the most popular comic books on the market today. Produced by Image Comics, and written by Robert Kirkman (who to geeks is famous for plenty of other things, including Marvel team-ups), the harrowing tale of zombie apocalyptic horror debuted in 2003 and has had a firm grip on its audience ever since. With occasional bouts of violence so graphic they cost the series some readers, it packs the kind of punch you’d expect from a zombie thriller. But the true beauty of The Walking Dead lies in the interpersonal stuff – the drama, the hopes, the fears, the love, the hate, and the just plain dysfunctional behavior of the few who manage to survive.
At heart, it’s the tale of a police officer named Rick Grimes who witnesses more than his fair share of horrors in a quest to reunite with his family. Without giving too much away, let’s just say he gets his wish…but loses more than he could ever imagine. No one and nothing is safe or sacred in The Walking Dead. Every character is subject to gruesome death or drastic personality changes, and that’s a fact of life for those of us who read it religiously. We adopt the attitude of “when” someone will disappear from the comic’s hallowed pages or become virtually unrecognizable, not “if”.
While the biggest question surrounding The Walking Dead‘s TV adaptation is whether or not it can survive the translation to the small screen, AMC’s recently-released trailer gives us a great deal of hope. It looks positively amazing. It’s not entirely like the comic, but it’s not entirely different; it appears to be, from the trailer, the perfect marriage of original tale and innovative additions. Robert Kirkman is on board to help steer the story in the right direction, and that’s a major shot of confidence for fans.
Don’t believe me? Check out the trailer goodness for yourself at AMC’s web site.
What you have to look forward to with The Walking Dead is a story that’s extremely strong from the get-go. It’s well-established in a successful comic, and while franchises like the X-Men movies teach us it’s easy to veer from a good comic story and make an awful adaptation, everything we’re seeing suggests this is a pretty faithful retelling. Of course, trailers and leaks are little more than propaganda, so their looks can be deceiving. But interviews with Kirkman and the other creative staff, as well as the man behind it all, Frank Darabont, support the theory that they’re really looking to bring the story to life with loyalty while still peppering in enough new aspects to keep those of us who’ve read the comic glued to our seats.
Brilliant casting and very impressive zombie special effects – something sorely missing from many zombie films – lend weight to the series, too.
For diehard fans of the comic, don’t expect complete canon. A quick glance at the IMDB page for the series reveals they’ve added in several new characters. With new characters comes new plot, and this is something Kirkman’s been honest about through the process. But this can bode well for us, since it means there’s fresh material to keep us entertained, and we don’t have to obsess over an exact detail-for-detail adaptation that will drive us nuts if it dares to deviate ever-so-slightly from the source material. Now we’ll expect changes, and cross our fingers that they integrate seamlessly.
For existing zombie lovers who’ve never read the comic – quick – pick up book or two now! But even if you never experience the story as it’s written, you should tune in to The Walking Dead for two reasons.
1) A truly good zombie television series has been sorely missing from our TV screens for entirely too long. If this show’s the real deal, it’ll be a revolution.
2) It’s your duty as a zombie fan to encourage this kind of creative exploration in the genre by tuning in. After all, if The Walking Dead‘s a hit, what wonders could come next?
If you’re one of the unwashed masses who’ve never read a zombie comic or watched a zombie film, I have bad news for you: you’re likely to be the first to have your brains eaten during the apocalypse. So spare yourself. Tune in to The Walking Dead and give a good zombie story a fair go. At worst, you’ll learn a few survival tips. At best, you’ll fall in love with a truly gripping tale that’ll have you mourning the fact that AMC’s only making 6 episodes to start. And you too will become a zombie convert – nay, dare I say, a zombie lover.
Check out more upcoming geek TV goodness here.