TV Review: ‘The Walking Dead’

The Walking Dead TV Review on

New showrunner? No problem, as AMC zombie hit embarks on a new chapter

The casualty count on “The Walking Dead” remains high — and that’s just its showrunners. Scott M. Gimple is the latest to step into the breach, after Glen Mazzara supplanted Frank Darabont — who developed the show — and guided it to become TV’s highest-rated hour in key demos. The new season’s first two episodes move much more assuredly than the zombies who populate the program, reflecting minor stylistic changes, perhaps — with a higher horror/splatter quotient, as if someone got that memo — but nothing that threatens to prevent fans of AMC’s blood-soaked gravy train from dutifully answering the dinner bell.

If ratcheting up the horror and gore seems like a no-brainer, it’s worth noting “Walking Dead” is one of those series that lure guys in with exploding heads and entrails, before getting them hooked on the characters and relationships. The adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s graphic novels — which regularly departs from the source —has also been particularly bold in shedding key players, adding a welcome uncertainty to the proceedings, while deftly reloading with strong new talent.

As viewers of season three will remember, Rick (Andrew Lincoln, recovering from that unfortunate loony-bin subplot) has inherited a lot of survivors from the town overseen by the Governor, creating a vast community within the prison where the core group had taken refuge from the “walkers” lurking outside. The addition of all those new faces, however, has introduced an element that almost feels like the old “Star Trek,” with the newcomers mirroring the red-shirted crewmen who beamed down to the planet but seldom beamed back up.

The premiere, directed by makeup effects wizard Greg Nicotero, does feature one impressive action sequence, as a group leaves the compound to forage for supplies.

Still, the most compelling portion of these hours is more philosophical than visceral — hinging on the notion that death has become such an ever-present part of their lives, some survivors are so numbed they must question whether they can still care, feel or allow themselves the luxury of grief. That’s played out in part through Rick’s relationship with his young son Carl (Chandler Riggs), who has grown up mighty fast, both literally and figuratively.

The second hour, meanwhile, features a new threat inside the prison, while the sword-wielding MIchonne (Danai Gurira, looking pretty striking on horseback) continues to search outside for the Governor — with her evident discomfort around people reflecting one of the stronger moments.

The cast, in fact, seems to be at an especially good juncture with Gurira, Chad L. Coleman as Tyreese and fellow “The Wire” alumnus Lawrence Gilliard Jr. as part of the group.

Of course, in “Walking Dead”-speak, viewers are perhaps well advised not to get too attached to any one individual — or producer. But at this point, the series/cottage industry that is “The Walking Dead” — if unlikely to ever enjoy the street cred of something like “Breaking Bad” or “Mad Men” — clearly appears bigger than any of its expendable parts, and unlike those zombies, has a whole lot of life left in it.

TV Review: 'The Walking Dead'

(Series; AMC, Sun. Oct. 13, 9 p.m.)

Production

Filmed in Georgia by Circle of Confusion and Valhalla Entertainment.

Crew

Executive producers, Scott M. Gimple, Gale Anne Hurd, Robert Kirkman, David Alpert, Greg Nicotero, Tom Luse; co-executive producers, Denise Huth, Seth Hoffman; supervising producer, ; producer, ; director, Nicotero; writer, Gimple; based on the graphic novels by Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard; camera, Michael Satrazemis; production designer, Grace Walker; music, Bear McCreary; casting, Sharon Bialy, Sherry Thomas. 60 MIN.

Cast

Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Chandler Riggs, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Lauren Cohan, Scott Wilson, Emily Kenny, Chad L. Coleman, Sonequa Martin-Green, Melissa Ponzio, Lawrence Gilliard Jr.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 6

Leave a Reply

6 Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Ray says:

    Is anyone else a huge fan or Norman Reedus???? I cant wait to finally meet and see him on October 10ths in Santa Monica, CA at the Red Carpet event for the DVD release of Hello Herman which Norman Reedus stars in. If anyone else is interested in meeting with Norman Reedus, I highly suggest you go to the event. I found and bought my tix at http://www.hellohermanthemovie.com

  2. Klaudia says:

    Keep calm and love Daryl Dixon!
    Magyarországon is :)

  3. Ty Krean says:

    The walking dead might not have the “street cred”, breaking bad or mad men have? What kind of hole has this writer climbed out of???? At the very least, they are all on the same level! If not walking dead is ahead!

  4. Pure Fluff says:

    Reblogged this on Pure Fluff.

More TV News from Variety

Loading