Though it has gathered a devoted cult fan base world wide, and is one of the most watched cable shows in America, zombie drama The Walking Dead hasn’t quite had the chance to flourish as well as it might in the UK.
First shown on Sky, and then tucked away on five* months later, it hasn’t really reached a large audience here, which is a shame, as it’s one of the best shows on television right now.
Based on the comic books of the same name by Robert Kirkman, the TV series begins with Brit Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, a small town sheriff who’s shot in the line of duty and ends up in a coma. Weeks later, he wakes to find the world over run by ‘walkers’ – that’s zombies to you and me – and sets off to find his wife and son amidst all the chaos.
Three seasons have passed since that opening episode, and a lot changes every season. It’s not just the locations; a lakeside camp in season one, a southern farm house in season two and a secure prison in season three, but the characters, too.
Similarly to Game of Thrones, there’s a no-one-is-safe feel that comes with the show, and it has a very high death count. Two of the three main characters from season one are already long gone, and there’s a worry with every episode that one of your favourites might not make it out alive, which makes for an intense and nail biting viewing experience.
There are also a lot of imaginative ways to bring in new characters, with season three adding two pivotal roles from the comic books; the amazing sword wielding, warrior woman Michonne and infamous, eye patch wearing villain ‘The Governor’ (played by another Brit, David Morissey, who’s accent is a little wobbly at times, but who nevertheless makes a thoroughly convincing and hate-able baddie).
The series is pitched as primarily a horror, and there are some pretty disgusting moments throughout. There’s plenty of blood and guts for gore hounds to enjoy, and the look of the zombies themselves are in safe hands, as they’re created by Greg Nicetoro, who worked with George A Romero throughout his ‘of the dead’ films.
There’s also lots of action, it’s very sad in parts, and it even manages to squeeze in moments of humour in between all of the people being eaten alive by the undead.
But what’s perhaps most surprising is that The Walking Dead is just as interesting when its focus is simply on the characters sitting around talking to each other. The moral dilemmas discussed and the arguments and friendships that are formed are similar to the scenes that made the first series of Lost such a success.
Because despite the zombies, the show is primarily routed in it’s characters. What’s nice is that, rather than just straight up ‘good’ and ‘bad’ people, you get ones that change from one to the other, with even the most moral characters being forced into making incredibly tough decisions. This makes it much more interesting and unpredictable, and it’s always fun to question what you would do in these situations.
And any scene with Daryl Dixon (played by the excellent Norman Reedus) is particularly enjoyable, and his character development throughout is brilliantly done. He’s a strong fan favourite – perhaps most notably among female viewers – and manages to be a mixture of awkward, sweet man-child and fearless, cross bow shooting redneck. If his baby holding scene didn’t make you inwardly squeal with joy then there’s obviously something wrong with you.
With its careful balance between action and character development, The Walking Dead is one of the most addictive TV shows of recent years, and the four minute season four trailer that was released at Comic Con looks like there’s a lot still to come.
It returns in October, and it can’t come quick enough. Watch the trailer here: