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October 21, 2012

The Walking Dead - S03E01

The Walking DeadI'm not a big fan of horror, it feels to negative to me, to focussed on short term survival, often lacking in hope. Plus I scare easily (the curse of an active imagination?). So I wouldn't have guessed that The Walking Dead would be something I'd watch: it's painfully tense, the outlook is continually bleak, the story has no emotional attachment to its characters so you can never be sure who will die next, the music is haunting, it's gory and there are endless zombies. The relentless zombie horde.

But I do like it. I like it a lot. Despite the gore (which for a TV show feels quite radical) the story is focussed on the characters, currently on their survival. Anything close to a long term plan has so far fallen to pieces, the survivors are still trying to live day to day and yet there is a glimmer, a promise of the chance to rebuild the world. That's what I'm interested in, that's what I'm always interests me about apocalyptic fiction: out of the ashes how do we make a better world, then how can we take those lessons and apply them before modern civilisation ends?

Episode one of season three opens with an exquisite example of exposition. No stodgy voice over telling us it is six months later, no text on the screen, just our heroes running away, again, looking tired and weary. Mentions of surviving winter. Glancing at a map and seeing red ink around the zombie herds, knowing from that that they're running out of places to hide. Lovely stuff. And then the promise, a prison. Up there in the top few places to try and occupy in a zombie apocalypse. So we get zombies in body armour and ruthless, efficient killing of zombies, and a scary chase through dark corridors. And still nothing feels safe, the tension never dropping despite being locked in a cell.

Brilliant writing. Great acting. High production values. I want these characters to survive, I want them to have a chance to settle and recover and heal their relationships. I don't reckon that's going to happen soon, but I'll keep watching in hope.