To fans of the horror genre and Robert Kirkman’s “The Walking Dead” comic series, Halloween was a very special day to look forward to back in 2010, as the highly-anticipated “The Walking Dead” TV show’s pilot episode premiered on AMC on Halloween night that year.
The pilot episode introduced arguably the most well-known and popular character of the series’ protagonists, former sheriff deputy Rick Grimes, played by Andrew Lincoln. Showrunner Frank Darabont skillfully starts the series off with clever writing that involves flashbacks and time jumps. The audience briefly gets to catch a glimpse of pre-apocalyptic life with Rick still working as a sheriff deputy in King County, Georgia alongside his former partner Shane Walsh, played by Jon Bernthal. Later in the episode, Rick awakens from a gun-shot induced coma in a local hospital and discovers quickly that something has gone horribly wrong in the world he’s woken up in. After leaving the hospital, he sets off to find his wife Lori Grimes, played by Sarah Callies, and son Carl Grimes, played by Chandler Riggs. Along the way, Rick encounters fellow survivors Morgan Jones, played by Lennie James and his son Duane, played by Adrian Turner, who are the first people to inform Rick of the undead apocalypse and the dire circumstances they all must now endure if they want to survive. Interestingly enough, the word “zombies” is rarely, if not ever, used by anyone in “The Walking Dead” TV show. The undead are referred to as “walkers” by the survivors instead. However, still not knowing the whereabouts of his family, Rick later decides to journey to Atlanta, Georgia after hearing rumors of a refugee camp operated by the United States’ military. Rick eventually parts ways with Morgan and Duane, with the episode concluding by showing Rick stuck in the worst of situations alone inside of a military tank surrounded by walkers in the devastated streets of Atlanta.
Following the successful pilot, “The Walking Dead” has become one of the most popular and highly-rated TV shows on cable. It was and still is massively successful, having launched several spin-off TV shows, video games and merchandise, with future content already in the works. It achieved all of this despite existing in an overly saturated market of zombie-related entertainment. The year it premiered saw the release of several other popular zombie-themed media including “Dead Rising 2,” “Resident Evil: Afterlife” and “Highschool of the Dead.” The entertainment industry had been frequently churning out zombie-themed projects for several years, and people were getting burnt out at the time. However, the showrunners, actors, production crew and others involved in the creation of “The Walking Dead” TV show still managed to produce a hit.
The first two seasons are where the story feels its freshest and when the characters can still make you feel attached to them emotionally, as opposed to later seasons. There are moments that genuinely feel heartbreaking and can make you angry at the fictional world that the story is all happening in. The dark tone, grim atmosphere and the general feel of the comic series are all translated and captured brilliantly on-screen. The music and sound, or lack thereof, in certain scenes also help immerse the audience into the world of the characters. Additionally, action scenes are well-timed and thrilling in season one, although season two is more dialogue-driven in the first few episodes. There are still plenty of epic moments though that make listening to all of the speaking lines worth it.
“The Walking Dead”’s first two seasons are worth a re-watch for Halloween this year. It’s a drama-horror TV show that still feels fresh and exciting. The storytelling, character drama and action will have you on the edge of your seat in anticipation about what may happen next.