Looking Back At Season 1
First of all, I love The Walking Dead – it is one of my favorite shows on TV, hands down. When the first season came out I remember thinking, "finally, a zombie TV show!" Until then it was pretty much all movies, which are hit-or-miss and much more infrequent than a TV series. My initial excitement carried over throughout the first season and I was much more lenient with criticism because I was blinded by my own fanaticism. Recently, though, I took a more objective look at Season 1. Here are my thoughts.
Rule #1 - Cardio
First of all, the zombies in Season 1 run. They aren't the slow, shambling zombies that you would expect and, in fact, at one point a zombie climbs a fence to give chase to Rick and Glenn. This is inconsistent with the rest of the series. Now you may be rationalizing this with, "They were fresh then, and later in the series they were more decayed/decomposed and thus couldn't move the same way." If this is the case, allow me to present: Exhibit A - Fear The Walking Dead. The zombies in FTWD have been slow from the start, so it makes no sense for the zombies in TWD Season 1 to be able to run.
"Okay, so the zombies were a bit faster back in the day! Who cares?" I will now direct your attention to: Exhibit B - episode 1.2 'Guts.' In this episode, we see zombies using heavy stones as tools to bust open the glass door! Zombies. Using. Tools. Get ready to update that old book, Darwin!
Now, I realize Romero went down this road (in Day of the Dead and Land of the Dead), but it was ill-conceived when he did it and it was ill-conceived when Darabont did it in Season 1 of The Walking Dead. Zombies using tools really kind of shits on the frail suspension of disbelief necessary to enjoy zombie fiction in most of its forms.
The Bright Side
The one thing that I really appreciated about Season 1 was how the writers were subtly planting the seeds for relationships that comic book readers assumed were in the future for the show's characters. In the comics, Andrea and Dale get together and adopt Sophia, Carol's daughter. All these characters are present in the first season and there are lots of subtle hints at their future relationships. Also, in the comics, Rick and Andrea eventually form a relationship as well - and when Rick and Andrea first meet in 'Guts,' it was quite a moment.
Looking back now, we know that none of these things happened in the show the way they did in the comics. That is partially because of the consecutive changes at the showrunners from Season 1 (Frank Darabont) to Season 2 (Glen Mazzara) to Season 3 (Scott Gimple) and it is wholly another tale for another time (and another article).
Matt is a writer/filmmaker in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. Follow me on Twitter @Matt_InTheWoods