Frank Darabont has been a favorite director of mine since Shawshank Redemption, but even before that he was getting horror cred for co-writing Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors with Chuck Russell and since he’s never strayed to far away from the beloved Horror Genre for too long. When it was announced he was working on a TV series based on a popular comic book called the Walking Dead, I was psyched! Every video I watched just made that anticipation grow and when the first episode was aired on AMC on Halloween, I wasn’t disappointed! It had action, amazing zombie effects and violence that I was surprised the show was able to get away with.
The problems started with the second episode. We’re introduced early on to a racist character that is so broadly painted that he might as well be wearing a hood and robe. While other characters were more likable they all suffered from the same thing, they were broad characters with stereotyped personalities. Anyone knows that for a zombie movie to work the characters have to be interesting because you’re supposed to root for them. While I understood and Like Rick, the main character of the series, the rest of the characters I didn’t care about. As the show progressed we’re introduced to another broad stereotype of a wife beating, possibly daughter raping, racist redneck that thankfully doesn’t last too long before succumbing to a zombie attack. There were the tough Latino gang thugs that turned out to be really good people trying to protect a whole old folks home and if that isn’t a total cliche I don’t know what is.
The fact is we know nothing about the group of survivors we’re stuck watching for this series. The way Lost got around this was with flash backs, which I had half expected to see in this series. Flashbacks to before the zombie outbreak or even during the beginnings of it, would go a long way in helping us understand these people and care about them. One of the most interesting characters, a father and his son that Help Rick in the premiere episode, is never heard from again.
The shows did get better as they went on but again, the horror movie / zombie movie cliche’s piled up. Such as the girl that talks about her birthday at the beginning of an episode and like any good horror cliche she’s zombie food by the end. Its stuff like that that are keeping The Walking Dead from being a great horror series. Last week it was reported that Frank Darabont had fired most of the writing staff and that the show runner had left. I hope this means the Darabont, a good writer on his own, will be able to take a more active hand in the second season and give us a zombie series that rises above the cliche’s of horror and offers up some drama to keep us interested in this series. Since filming hasn’t even begun on a second season yet, it will be likely next Fall before we find out.
The Walking Dead is a new series that only got 6 episodes to get it right and I enjoyed most of it. It has its problems but I hope that with a full 13 episode second season these problems will get worked out and we’ll finally get the great zombie TV series we deserve!