TV review: Zombies come alive on AMC

By Joe O'Leary

A man walks through a Georgia campsite. Hundreds of abandoned cars sprawl in every direction from him. While wandering through the wasteland, he sees a young girl stoop to pick up a teddy bear. He approaches her, and she turns to reveal that she is an inhuman monster. As the creature charges at him, he raises a silver revolver and shoots her in the head.

Thus begins the new AMC TV series, “The Walking Dead.” More than 5.2 million people tuned in for its premiere last Sunday on Halloween. The zombie series is based on a 2003 comic book series of the same name. Although not entirely original, the series is one of the most impressive and well made zombie-related media in recent years, and if it can follow the strength of its great pilot, it could be AMC’s third straight critically acclaimed series after “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad.”

Rick Grimes is a Southern small town sheriff’s deputy, living a quiet existence with his wife Lori and son Carl. In the middle of a shootout with some drug runners, Rick is shot and falls into a coma. In a complete clone of the opening scenes of “28 Days Later,” probably due to the extreme similarity of the two series’ plots, Rick awakens in an abandoned hospital months later.

Slowly regaining motor function, Rick toddles outside where he finds hundreds of dead bodies stacked about the surrounding parking lots. When he reaches a park he finds his first zombie, steals a bike and flees to what he thinks is safety, planning to reach Atlanta to find his family. Of course, the only thing actually waiting for him in the city is about 100,000 more zombies, ready to make him a snack.

“The Walking Dead” is directed and produced by the fantastic Frank Darabont, director of all-time classics “The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Green Mile.” Through his work, the series really shines. It doesn’t shy away from gore. Plenty of on-screen violence occurs – a surprising amount for a TV-14 series – and everything about it is top-notch. As long as zombies don’t give you nightmares, “The Walking Dead” is definitely the show of the fall, and should be checked out ASAP. It airs on AMC at 10 p.m.

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