The story, both comic and TV, is an ensemble landscape. It’s all about everyone and yet at its core it’s all about Rick Grimes. If you’ve read the comic you’ll know he goes through Hell, and worse, over much time. It’s a gruelling role and casting it was always going to be the most important part. You need to hook people with this man, this hero, this icon. There was early talk about many actors getting the role. I heard mention of Mark Pellegrino (Jacob on LOST) and I really liked that idea. I was let down they didn’t go with him but I was also just as excited and sure that the hiring of Andrew Lincoln was a brilliant idea. The guy is likeable and a good actor. I’ve said it before but Teachers was one hell of a show. Lincoln is an actor that just owns the screen and watching him play American has been a solid showing.
This guy is going to carry the show, I have no doubt about that. He has the range to do everything needed of him and he’ll become a much bigger success due to this show. It’s nice to see a pairing of actor and character work so well on the screen.
2 - Shane
In the comic, Shane doesn’t get the sort of treatment he’s receiving in the show. Shane, as brought to life by Jon Bernthal, is someone I’m actually starting to like and feel for. Shane is a real man with true motivations and you can see things working against him and it’s not completely his fault. He did try his best to do what was right and it’s just crumbled around him. Such a shame but such great drama. This show is so much richer and stranger because of the development put into Shane. It’s a smart choice and one that’s working well on every level.
3 - KNB effects
A show about zombies was always going to need to look good. This show looks very damn good and that’s in large part due to the KNB Effects group. They’ve historically shown they’ve got the goods to make any gory situation look quality and they don’t hold back here. I am really glad that Darabont made the decision to go with what might just be the best in the industry right now (certainly at the top with the masters). They make the violence feel real and they make the zombies look like good old fun and that’s a very fun thing to see. You’re never taken out of the story by a goofy looking walker, it’s just always quality.
4 - Rooker
How can you go wrong with Michael Rooker? The guy has more street cred than he knows what to do with and here he uses it to play a character he can really sink his teeth into. He’s an idiot fool and a man who is put into a seriously messy situation. Rooker gets to ham it up to the point where he’s turned himself into fine and delicate bacon. He is the role and you just want to see more. The show leaves Rooker in a great place and I wonder when/if he’ll ever return. I’ll cast my bet now that he’ll return as the Governor. That’s a long shot but one worth well considering. Just imagine it.
5 - Tangents
The show is beholden to the comic, in most places, but sometimes it takes liberties and makes changes or adds in more. It’s the sort of thing that might anger some fans but on the whole it’s made the show live its own life on the screen. All of the new characters might just feel like fodder to be set up, and surely some of them are, but some are really bringing something extra with them. The entire Morgan scene in the first episode was the perfect opportunity to show that adding more can be completely effective. Daryl and Merle are great ideas that can be played for some time. Shane has been changed and very much for the better. The whole CDC trip almost lost me but then it showed that the show can tangent off into something new and different but it can also end up right back on the same track as the comic. It’s world building that works completely and that’s a very good thing. I’m happy for the show to give a little something more because I don’t feel the show needs to be a literal translation of the comic panel for panel. It’s going to be something slightly different and maybe even better…
6 - Character Actors
It’s a smart move to pepper the cast with true character actors. None of these actors are true A-list superstars and so they’re able to better inhabit the roles they have been assigned. Lincoln, Bernthal, and Rooker I have discussed but the likes of Norman Reedus and Laurie Holden really bring a quality and immersion to the show that is needed. You must sell the concept and that is really happening here. You also need to look at someone like Jeffrey DeMunn who obviously completely trusts Frank Darabont and so he’s bringing class and quality to his role as Dale. Everyone brings something to the screen and that’s something you absolutely must have in a good show.
7 - Zombies On TV
Come on, stop and think for a second, can you believe we have a zombie show on TV? It’s just insane and awesome on a pure level somewhere in the back of your brain. A genre that’s usually confined to the back of the rental store and hidden behind terrible covers and here it is in a massively successful show that’s busting ratings and critical ceilings. It’s amazing and about bloody time. I love zombies, love them, but the quality zombie movies are few and far between. As a whole, there’s definitely more crud out there than the good stuff. But now that’s all changed because I just got 6 weeks’ worth of very high quality zombie fare. And I’m going to get more next year and it’s sating my urges for the walking undead gore. I love that there’s zombies on TV, I just hope no one else tries to cash in with their zombie addition. This is not a cash cow, people.
8 - Robert Kirkman
He’s the brains behind the comic. He thought it up, he wrote it, and now he gets to work on the show. It was a smart move to bring Kirkman in to make the adaptation a more pure process. It’s also interesting then to note that Kirkman penned an episode and it might have been the weakest entry in the season. And it’s still a pretty good episode. But mostly, you just feel like this whole endeavour is a labour of love. Kirkman gets to have a say, he gets to guide, and it can only be stronger for that input. No one really knows this story, these characters, like Kirkman. It is very smart to keep him around.
9 - AMC Is Not Afraid
I love that AMC just is not afraid. They’ll show whatever the hell they feel on the small screen. They’ll kill whatever characters they want. They’ll dwell on the zombie killing with blood and screaming and it all feels like something that isn’t a TV show because generally this stuff doesn’t come across on the tube. Especially not in prime time and with such fanfare. I get the feeling that this show will do whatever it wants, and this is one of the strengths of the comic. No one is safe and that feeling has transferred perfectly to TV>
10 - The Comic Still Exists
It’s awesome, have you checked it out? I can only hope that if someone likes this show then they’ll give the comic a chance. The comic is so damn good and there’s so much of it available. If I had come across this show and not the comic then I would want to get the comic. I would absolutely want to know what would be coming down the line. You race years ahead of the show and then get to see how well it is adapted. But I’m also the kind of guy who loves to read the novel before the film.
But in general, the comic is one of the best comics being published today. It has retained a sense of quality and abandon that makes it a thrill to read in every issue and trade. If you love the show then you are almost guaranteed to love the comic. So go buy it, now.
There’s plenty more reasons why this show is awesome but I’m sure we can at least agree that it is awesome. It’s a fanlad delight and I’m hooked completely. Why did you like this show? Or possibly more interesting, did you not like this show, and if not why? Hit up the comments below to let me know.