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The Walking Dead: Days Gone Bye

Rick: "I'm sorry this happened to you."

I love this show. There is nothing like waking up in a hospital room and finding out the world has ended. I know it’s been used before, but it is such a great way to move from everything’s okay to complete disaster without all the icky bits in between.

So there is our protagonist, still recovering from his gunshot wound, staggering through complete horror. It is only pure dumb luck that gets Rick to his home without being attacked, and it is luck again that he finds just the right people to help him survive long enough to get his wits about him. You can be the best shot and the most well-trained survivalist, but it is luck more than anything that determines who lives and who dies when the world goes to hell.

However, if you want to give luck a chance, you have to start using your brain and thinking things through. Rick starts to do that. He realizes that his family may still be alive. He listens and learns from Morgan. He goes for the guns and hits the road. I love that Rick continues to wear his uniform even though being a cop doesn’t have any meaning anymore, because this show isn’t just about survival, it's about what makes us human. The point is not just how can we survive, but why we should bother.

End of the world shows are also good for getting us to ask ourselves important questions. What would I do on the edge? What do I take for granted every day? What is really important to me? It is interesting to see the characters struggling with these things. I can tell you that I’m not sure I would make it past the first zombie attack. I might just stay in that hospital room forever.

As a first episode, this one did its job. It sets the scene, introduces us to the main characters and let us know a little bit about them. The scene is complete devastation. Atlanta is not the safe haven it was advertised to be (even I know that in a zombie apocalypse the city is not the best place to go, and an even bigger hint was that all the cars were trying to drive out of the city). There must be some kind of civilization somewhere, though, because we do see a helicopter.

The characters are in various pockets. We have a band of survivors on the way to Atlanta, a father and son on the outskirts and Rick. Morgan and his son are holed up in the suburbs of Atlanta next door to where Rick used to live. Morgan is a much more realistic portrayal of how one might react in this situation. He is paralyzed by the loss of his wife. The scene where he tries to shoot his now-zombie wife was heartbreaking. I really hope his being frozen in place doesn’t end up killing him and Duane.

We also get to meet the ubiquitous ragtag group of survivors hunkered down just outside of Atlanta. Even these characters have some depth though and this group includes Rick’s wife Lori, his son Carl, and his best friend and partner, Shane. Unfortunately Shane has something going with Lori. Not the greatest thing to find out after you’ve battled zombies to find your family. Rick is the lone traveller trying to get from one group to the other, although he doesn’t know it yet.

Bits and Pieces

I really am not a fan of the gooey bits of this show and I find some things really disturbing. The zombie kids creep me out and Rick shooting the little girl was awful.

Okay, the conversation about women never turning off the lights was sexist, but my daughter and I looked at each other and laughed. Her dad was always after me to turn off the lights, and now her partner does the same thing. I would like to see a little more action from women in the show, though. The big male protector thing can get a bit wearing.

Why exactly was Rick standing out in the open to shoot at the suspects in the car when he already knew they had shot at police officers. I wasn’t surprised when he got hit.

The half-woman zombie that Rick sees and eventually shoots out of mercy is an awesome product of special effects. You can see the process of creating her in the short clip “Bicycle Girl” which is available on the show’s website.

A horse is a good idea since they don’t need gas, but riding them into a zombie crowd is just nasty. My least favourite bit of the show.

Note to self - don’t use a gun in a tank.

Quotes

Rick: “Is this real? Am I here? Wake, wake-up!”

Rick: “Gunshot ain’t enough.”

Morgan: “I guess we just froze in place.”

Rick: “You pull the trigger, you have to mean it.”

Voice over the radio: “Hey you, dumbass. Ya you in the tank. Cozy in there?”

Song at the end: “Welcome to my world, welcome to my only world.”

9 comments:

  1. Great to see that replacing lost content has begun.

    That was an effective pilot, the rest of the season not as much. Nonetheless I can't wait for the new season, but I'm dreading that all the backstage drama may have an inpact on quality.

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  2. I am so with you, Doc. I really like end of the world stories (although of course I don't want the world to end) and even though I'm not a zombie fan, this show is so well done that I love it, anyway. Thank you so much for covering The Walking Dead for us! You're off to a great start with a terrific review.

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  3. Nice to have you covering it, Doc (I'll use this nickname, too). Great review. I hope the next season is on par, too. At least as good as the comics.

    I've read the comics until #84, and if they follow it at least in spirit, many of your worries about women's roles will be squashed. There are as many strong (physically and psychologically) women as men in the series. Weak, too.

    They've deviated from the plot a lot. Some characters that should be dead by Ep3 are still alive in the series. Morgan appears only around #70.

    Speaking of deaths, if you think Joss Whedon kills too many characters, brace yourselves. Don't get attached. It's even worse than Game of Thrones. It's really bleak.

    Doc, you said that the beginning, with Rick waking up at the hospital, has been done before, and I think you're referring to 28 Days Later. Robert Kirkman claims that when he started writing the comics, he hadn't watched the movie (there's a 1-year gap between them). I don't mind it, because the reason and manner they were left in the hospital were very different. Originality doesn't exist.

    I'll have a lot to comment, now I'm almost up-to-date with the comics.

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  4. This really is a great show and I am so looking forward to season 2.
    Dissappointingly enough, I bought three volumes of the comic and found it pretty bad actually - the first volume being the best.
    But then it just went downhill with plotthreads that got thrown out and lost and characters that were very one-dimensional.
    I'm hoping, and assuming, that this won't happen with the show.

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  5. The original "waking up in a hopsital bed to a world destroyed" is from the book Day of Triffids. And sorry to be pedantic but Morgan is there (briefly) from the begining of the comics not #70.

    Anyway agree with you about the body count in the comics. Wow they don't spare many, but I can't see the tv show doing that.

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  6. You were not pedantic at all, Anon. I was wrong and you've corrected me with tact.

    I just don't remember Morgan before that. My memory is not the same.

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  7. Okay, so I don't usually like zombie fare. But so many people I know that say the same thing just rave about The Walking Dead (including Doc), and I've decided to give it a go. And I've got to say, thus far I'm quite enjoying the series (having finished all of S1).

    I was particularly blown away by this pilot. Just an outstanding first entrance into this terrifying new world. (The relative lack of zombies until the end probably helped.) Rick is a very solid central figure, and fairly well inhabited by Andrew Lincoln. I was completely caught up in his introduction to the end of the world. The hospital bits were particularly harrowing --- made all the more so by the lack of music and most sound --- and when he broke down in his home, agonized over the absence of his wife and son, and hoping he was having some kind of coma nightmare, I got rather choked up.

    But I was particularly moved by Morgan's inability to kill his zombie wife. I actually cried at that scene, and any zombie series that can wreck me with true human pain from the get go seems to be worth sticking with. :)

    Side note: a lot of people seem to complain about Andrew Lincoln's accent. Apparently it doesn't strike them as particularly authentic, but I think he does just fine. I didn't find it distracting at all, even though I kind of expected to.

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  8. This show has so many people raving about it and it got such great numbers the other night that I had to check out the pilot. Dear God, but this is grim.

    I'm not sure how I feel about it yet. I found myself completely taken out of the beginning when Rick wakes up because all I could think about was how much time had elapsed since the hospital had been abandoned. How is Rick still alive with no liquid for however long? How is not lying in a mess of his own waste? How is he able to wake up from the coma and then walk and ride a bike?

    I found myself engaged again when he runs into Morgan and Duane. I loved the shower scene. Talk about things we take for granted! The joy in something as simple as hot water was lovely to watch. I was surprised that Rick left them, but I guess he didn't realize how paralyzed Morgan truly is. Besides, Rick is dealing with a lot of new information.

    The final scene in Atlanta scared the hell out of me, especially the final crane shot of the streets overrun. But, I wasn't too fond of the bloody mangling of the horse and all the head shots either.

    If I had watched this pilot cold, this probably would have been it for me. But, I respect the people who love this show, so another episode it is. Just as soon as my heartbeat returns to normal.

    Jess -- I was interested in your comment about Lincoln's accent. For the first few minutes, I couldn't place where I knew him. The face was so familiar but the accent wasn't. I finally hit pause and reverted to IMDb. No wonder I didn't recognize the voice. For an Englishman, his accent is great.

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  9. Chris, based on your comments here, you may want to jump off the train now. The gore level in the next episode is substantially higher, so if that, tension, and grimness are deal killers for you, you may want to just consider this show "not for you." :)

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