Sunday, 5 June 2011


Easily one of the best television shows from 2010, The Walking Dead is a well-acted, unsettlingly convincing portrayal of a society tearing itself apart, quite literally. The premise is hardly original, Police Officer Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) leads a group of survivors in a world overrun by zombies, based on the American comic book series created by Robert Kirkman, and the scenes of brutality (a joy to witness such terror on the small screen), although exhilarating, play second fiddle to character conflicts and deceptions that grip harder than the undead.

There really is nothing else like it (that doesn't mean we want to see cheap imitations), so let’s make a toast to the brave souls that believed in a story following a group of people trying to survive in a world stricken by a zombie apocalypse, and reminisce about the good old days with the best moments from season one…

1. “I’m sorry this happened to you.”

Andrew Lincoln makes for a strong lead, but there’s a surfeit of fault-free support throughout the series. The opening episode’s Lennie James is so endearing it’s heart-breaking to watch as his character Morgan attempts to right a wrong and put his beloved wife out of her misery with a shot to the head from the bedroom window. At the same time, Grimes is putting another lame dog down, this time with more success, in a moment so gut-wrenching you end up feeling as sorry for the zombie as for our leading man.

2. “Other horses too, I bet…”

With the promise of food, safety, shelter, and maybe a couple of horses to gallop with, Grimes convinces a gee-gee to take him to Atlanta after failing to find other suitable transport. But it is a good horse that never stumbles, and after easily outrunning two of the undead waiting for a bus, a helicopter flying overhead leads Grimes and his comrade into the path of hundreds of starved flesh-eaters quite capable of, well, eating a horse. Animal lovers look away now…

3. “Have you been listening?”

Trapped in a tank, surrounded by walkers, Grimes must escape to an alley fifty yards away with fifteen rounds of ammo, the help of a stranger communicating via radio and one piece of advice, “Make a run for it.” Thus begins a frantic shooting spree, starting with a spade to the head, lots of dead undead, a bullet to spare in case things turn really nasty, and an impressive introduction for his future allies. It’s just a shame they aren’t so happy to see him…

4. “You got something you wanna tell me?”

Forced onto the rooftop for safety, Grimes is introduced to one-man-army Merle Dixon (the excellent Michael Rooker), who has just decided it’s democracy time, sermonizing the others with racist poppycock, allowing his fists to finish every sentence. It doesn’t help that eventually Merle wins the audience over, up to a point, and because his denouement hangs in the balance, Rooker’s return in season two is mouth-watering to say the least; especially as his more likeable brother Daryl (Norman Reedus) hit the roof when he discovered the others left his sibling for dead, handcuffed to one.

5. “One more thing, he’s an organ donor.”

Poor old Wayne from Georgia - not only did the poor fella get attacked by zombies, resulting in his own transformation, now even that has ended, and he lays lifeless on the floor, fun times with his girlfriend Rachel a distant memory, not even able to spend the few dollars in his wallet. Luckily, if Grimes ever finds his family again, he’s going to tell them about poor old Wayne, possibly omitting the part where he takes an axe and butchers the wretched soul in order to smear blood and guts of the deceased over his and Glenn’s (Steven Yeun) bodies to disguise that their vital organs are still intact. A bit like Shaun Of The Dead (2004), with the humour notched down to zero, our heroes, looking like two of Lady Gaga’s backing singers, almost make it past a ravenous mob of slain subjects when the heavens burst wide open...

6. “You got some balls for a Chinaman.”

I’m not sure what the worst job is, delivering pizza or sneaking down a street full of the living dead to retrieve a bag of guns and ammo, and the Deputy’s hat. Wayne teams up with Daryl, covering the Korean with a crossbow in this memorable melee, but their plans go awry in the shape of a gang of thugs who also have their eyes on the prize. They’re not that bothered about the hat, which is probably why it takes Grimes so long to back his friends up, but the group get a much-needed kick up the backside, whilst one of their foes gets an arrow up his instead.

7. “I told you all to leave me the hell alone.”

Whether you try and be discreet or not, out of toilet paper means out of luck, especially after nightfall, giving sister Andrea (Laurie Holden) a serious case of the birthday blues. A wife-beating lout may deserve every bit of his punishment, but the camp, outnumbered for the most part, is crippled by numerous body-ripping losses, in a bloody battle that thankfully reignites episode four, and is the catalyst for two of the best moments this series proudly offers. Welcome back boys, your timing is impeccable…

8. “I’m here now, Amy.”

Daylight offers little in the way of support as Daryl refuses to accept the decision to stop burning the bodies, allowing others the time to mourn and bury their loved ones. Apparently, that’s what people do. Daryl is probably right to disagree. He knows, unlike the others, that what a person shouldn’t do is cradle a zombie in their arms, regardless of kin, and apologise for not being around as the undead slowly becomes just that. So yes, Andrea, time heals all wounds and you're here now, which may or may not be all that matters, but it still doesn't explain why you haven’t blown her bloody head off. What are you waiting for? One extremely tense and nerve-shredding second later, Daryl holds his hands up and admits he may’ve got that one wrong.

9. “The camera, it moved.”

It’s 194 days since Wildfire was declared, 63 days since the disease went global, there’s no clinical progress to report and Dr. Edwin Jenner (Noah Emmerich) doesn’t like company much. Not a good time for the group to decamp at CDC (Center for Disease Control), praying that Grimes is right to believe his old pal Morgan, whom fancied a cure was on the verge of being found. Instead, our survivors are discovered by more walkers, and Jenner can either let them all die outside, or against his wishes, he can open the door and share a few bottles of vino. Either way, their heads are going to hurt in the morning…

10. “You don’t get to do that.”

Pop quiz, hotshot… topside’s locked down, decontamination is imminent, you have one grenade, two minutes and no solution – what do you do? What do you do? A whisper in the ear sends Grimes and most of the crew packing, but Andrea decides to stay. It isn’t what Amy would want, but she’s dead, and adopted grandfather Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) isn’t having a bar of it. In the most touching scene of the series, DeMunn reveals all his thespian qualities and delivers a truly emotional tour de force that convinces Andrea to save herself, re-joining the others in living hell. Er…

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