Local, lurid and apocalyptic series, The Walking Dead an aight fright

The Southerner

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By Jack Douglas, Nexus magazine

Atlanta is no longer safe. The living dead roam the streets in herds numbering in the thousands, all of them ready to chase, bite, scratch and eat the flesh off your bones. And if you think you can just run to Alabama and everything will be fine, you had better think again. The dead are everywhere, and the world we know has fallen apart. The only thing you can do is run as long as you can and hang on to what little humanity you have left.

This is the apocalyptic vision of Frank Darabont, writer/director of AMC’s Atlanta-based hit new drama, The Walking Dead.

Based off a comic book series by Robert Kirkman, Toni Moore and Charlie Aldard, The Walking Dead follows the story of Rick Grimes, a sheriff who after a gunshot wound, goes into a coma and wakes up in a world where the living dead, or “walkers,” have overrun the living. After reuniting with his wife, Lori, his son, Carl, and a band of survivors led by his former partner, Shane Walsh, Rick must use every ounce of his courage, intelligence and instinct to protect his family and new companions from the ravaging hordes of zombies that truly are everywhere.

The show is riveting. Filled with action-packed, gory scenes of zombie-induced mayhem, it at times becomes hard to watch, as characters you have grown to like are killed and eaten mercilessly by the flesh-eating “walkers.” But the action is merely a highlight in a show propelled by intimate visions of human resiliency in a world gone to hell. The show is also packed with intricate mysteries, many of which may never truly be explained. For instance through the 13 episodes of the first and second season, the origin of the zombies has not been explained. The show’s distinct lack of coherence makes viewers feel like they too have just awoken from a coma. Like the characters, viewers can’t fully comprehend the crisis that envelops them.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the show for local Atlanta viewers is the fact that all of the action is filmed in and around Atlanta. In many scenes you can see the skyline in the background, and the skyscrapers seem to serve as enormous headstones in the graveyard of the human race, empty except for our triumphant flesh-eating friends. From scenes of a zombie-overrun Georgia State, to the entrance of the CDC, littered with dead soldiers who defended it, and the not-so-dead soldiers turned zombies who still walk its perimeter, the vivid pictures of Atlanta after the apocalypse seem so real that it feels good to check the local news just to make sure no zombies have attacked.

Throughout its first two seasons, the show has received critical acclaim, receiving a Golden Globe nomination for best television series drama after the first season. The show has also done incredibly well in ratings pulling average viewership for the first season of more than 4 million viewers per episode in the United States. In finale of season 2, the show drew 6.6 million viewers, up from the finale of the first season, which posted ratings of just over 6 million voters. The show began the second half of its second season on Feb. 12th, hoping to match or exceed the viewership it received in its first half.

The Walking Dead is a show well worth watching for any person with even a little love for zombie movies. But, even if you don’t like those pale, empty-faced, blood-soaked walkers, you should at least tune in for the incredible cinematography  which makes  Atlanta look like it would after a zombie apocalypse. Who knows, you might even see somewhere or someone you recognize.

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