AMC has an excellent track record in original drama, despite only dabbling with it since 2007 – from the period piece, introspective masterpiece Mad Men to the labrynthine, atmospheric conspiracy thriller Rubicon, each show has one thing in common: delicate, slow pacing. The Walking Dead is no different – its five-minute opening vignette is essentially void of dialogue, while much of the first half of this pilot sees director Frank Darabont using the post-zombie world of the show to tell the story.
But…it’s brilliant. To most, source material like The Walking Dead would be an excuse to have a 90-minute zombie shootout as the cast is picked off, one-by-one – Dead Set, for example, is just a zombie movie with a Big Brother skin and mostly boring Brits being picked off. This has long, dialogue-heavy scenes, all the hallmarks of a credible drama – it just so happens to have zombies, as well, which makes it a lot of fun during the relevant moments.
And you know what? Andrew Lincoln is pretty damn good. His accent is a little patchy, but his acting has improved a hell of a lot since the days of This Life and Teachers – it’s pretty meaty material. The Rick Grimes character is fascinating, a three-dimensional touchstone between the audience and the story.
Basically, it’s exactly what horror fans need on TV – I hope the following episodes can maintain this quality. It seems to have found a massive audience, as well. 5.3 million viewers tuned in to its premiere.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays on AMC in the US and will begin this Friday on FX UK.