AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’ infectiously fun

Nate Kerdock

Zombie fans rejoice: Your prayers for a show based on those loveable flesh-eating monsters have been answered. On Oct. 31 AMC’s new TV series, “The Walking Dead,” premiered to an overwhelming 5.3 million viewers, which makes it the most watched AMC premiere of all time. 

Its follow-up episode on Nov. 7 garnered a slightly smaller 4.7 million viewers, but it has still shambled to the top of the ratings for new TV series. 

This new fascinatingly morbid show is centered on the character Rick Grimes, a small town sheriff from Cynthia, Ky., who wakes up from a coma to find himself in the middle of a full-fledged zombie outbreak. 

Rick soon sets off on a mission to find his lost wife and son and protect them from the brain-devouring creatures now roaming the streets. It is a tale of courage, survival, the breakdown of society in the face of an overwhelming crisis and best of all: freaking zombies, man.

The show is based off a currently running 2004 comic book series by writer Robert Kirkman (the mind behind other esteemed franchises such as Marvel Zombies and Battle Pope) and current artist Charlie Adlard, with the first six issues illustrated by Tony Moore before he moved to work on other projects. 

Kirkman has reportedly been working very closely with the writing and production of the show, even going so far as to having directed the upcoming fourth episode himself. So far he and Adlard have been “very pleased” with how faithful the show has been to the source material.

One of the key elements of publicity for the show has been its viral marketing.

 In the 24 hours leading up to the premiere episode, AMC and Fox International Channels coordinated a “worldwide zombie invasion” wherein actors in full undead make-up and costuming roamed the streets of 26 major cities, including New York City, Athens, Lisbon, London and ending in Los Angeles at the time of the show’s premiere in the United States. 

Additionally, every week on the show, viewers are offered a chance to join the undead horde by entering a code that is shown at the end of each episode online, entering them into a lottery for the chance to appear as a zombie extra in the show’s upcoming episodes.

Make no mistake, this is not a series based solely off the gore and non-stop action that any medium based around the undead seems to come with. 

Kirkman’s editorial note in the first issue of the comic says the story is “not a horror book. I like the term ‘survivalist adventure.’ I think that one works well with what we’re trying to do.” 

This approach seems to be working for Kirkman, as “The Walking Dead” has gained a significant following in the comic community, including being labeled by the website IGN as “one of the best monthly comics available” and having won the Eisner Award in 2010 for best continuing series. 

Meanwhile the new TV series has been receiving equally high levels of praise.

“I wish all programming decisions were no-brainers like this one,” said Senior Vice President for Scripted Programming at AMC, Sharon Tal Yguado. 

 One can only hope his taste in TV is better than his affinity for puns. “The Walking Dead” is on AMC with new episodes every Sunday at 10 p.m. With a comic series of 78 issues and counting, and the show having already been confirmed for a second season consisting of 13 episodes (in addition to the first season’s scheduled six episodes), “The Walking Dead” does not seem to be going to its grave anytime soon.