Why am I watching a show about zombies? In the grand scheme of horror tropes, I find zombies to be even less interesting than those blue lights that hover in swamps. Whereas ghosts have all the creepy backstory (He Cannot Rest Until His Murderer Is Brought To Justice!) and even vampires have an aura of sexual danger and/or allure, zombies are the mud pies of horror. They have no compelling origin stories, no intrigue for the living.
Whenever zombies enter a story I tend to lie back and think of England.
So I’ve sat skeptically on the sidelines for a year while pretty much everyone I know is nattering on about how The Walking Dead is the new hotness and if I love __________(the wire, deadwood, breaking bad, mad men, lost) then I’d just go crazy for this show too.
“Yeah, but it’s zombies. Zombies are the celery of horror creatures. Crunchy, no flavour.”
Several things conspired this weekend to sway me into watching, though.
1. Season One’s showrunner was Frank Darabont. You may know him as the man who brought us The Shawshank Redemption, which is in my top 5 favourite films list having long ago ousted Empire Strikes Back. As far as storytellers go, I do believe I would buy a phonebook if someone told me Frank Darabont had a hand in writing it.
2. A couple of people did an end run around the Zombies and hit my sweet spot by telling me that it was “what the Stand mini-series should have been. And without Rob Lowe.”
3. There was absolutely nothing else of interest on Netflix or pay-per-view.
So now I’m 5/6ths the way through Season One. I think I like it; I enjoy the character development, and enjoy watching the conflict scenarios of how ordinary people handle extraordinary circumstances. It’s kind of like Shawshank except in this case the Outside World is the prison and safety and comfort come from being locked away.
I could do without the gross-for-grossness’ sake bits that I think they throw in there to draw the kind of guys who used to burn ants with magnifying glasses. But I figure you’ll always get that sort of thing whenever zombies are involved and so I put up with it to get to the good bits.
I must admit, though, that I’m more than a little worried for season two. Darabont had to leave the show so that idiot Matthew Wiener* (the only hollywood person who has ever bitched me out in my blog comments) could have more money for his stupid program about sexist pigs in advertising.** Since I assume that Darabont is the one bringing the character goodness, I’m leery about TiVoing Season 2. I suspect that it’ll be more gross and less group dynamics. I guess we’ll see.
* Yes, I do agree with Kurt Sutter’s version of events. He may be crass, but he’s got his fingers on the pulse of people in general. Not unlike Darabont. And from what I’ve come to know of Weiner through our miniscule grudge match and subsequent research, I think he’s a get-mine-and-screw-the-rest type of guy. In short, I think Weiner wants to be Don Draper when he grows up. I’m also 41 years old and I understand how budgets work. If one department wants more money, another has to cut their budget to accomodate.
**I worked for a long time in the marketing department of a publisher. I don’t need to hang out with those types when I’m at home vegging.