Wednesday, July 13, 2011

TV Review: The Walking Dead (2010-)

By T-Rav

AMC’s The Walking Dead was a breakout hit last fall, which might not surprise you at first glance. I mean, come on. It’s ZOMBIES, people! Zombies which have to be killed using violence; lots and lots of violence! And the network gave it a Halloween premiere date, perhaps the most obvious marketing ploy in the history of television. What could go wrong? Actually, a lot could have, and the fact that it didn’t speaks to the ways in which it was designed as something more than your standard gorefest.

As many of you probably know, TWD began several years ago as a graphic novel series by Robert Kirkman, before being adapted for television by Frank Darabont (The Mist). There are over a dozen installments in the series, but don’t just run out and grab some to read if you want to know what the next TV season will bring; TWD has already diverged from its written predecessor in certain ways, and the producers have indicated it will do so again. The main protagonist is Sheriff’s Deputy Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), who has a typical small-town life in the South before getting badly injured in a shootout and spending quite some time in a coma-like state. When he emerges—in a very 28 Days Later-esque fashion—the zombie apocalypse has struck, and he must do all he can to find his family and keep them alive. In following this plotline, the story deviates from the rest of the zombie genre in several important ways.

Most zombie movies have pretty shallow content; plus, they’re a very paint-by-numbers affair, with the same subplots and conflicts recycled over and over again. You have the living dead striking out of nowhere, people freaking out and then quickly rallying to exterminate their foes in lots of inventive ways. Often you’ll see our “heroes” make a game out of it, seeing how many corpses they can destroy at once, preferably with a few comedic touches as well. There’s one or two people trying to enrich themselves in the middle of the crisis (how much sense does this make…oh forget it, it’s not like logic is a big element in these stories). Minorities are well represented, and of course they’re all strong, wise, born leaders, all those other positive connotations. And you’ll usually have a few identifiably bad guys, representing every negative stereotype Hollywood can think of—especially cold, manipulative corporate types—who you’re happy to see wind up as a fresh meal in short order. If the script is in the hands of a talented director, these villains may also serve to turn the film into some kind of broader social commentary. But it’s still made very clear who you should be rooting for and against.

Up to a point, this is okay, because most of the time, you’re watching precisely because this is such lightweight, superficial entertainment, and not social commentary. (Come on, you know you are!) But this doesn’t really work for a long-term television series, which depends on character development and so forth. What TWD has done to stand out is create interesting, realistic characters, characters we’re interested in watching even when there are no ghouls around. Also, they react to the events around them in more believable ways -- if a zombie apocalypse were to actually occur, people would not be imitating Dawn of the Dead, because that’s not realistic.

First, the realism. There are a lot of good examples of this, but there’s a couple in the pilot episode which I thought really set the tone for the show. The more shocking instance is in the opening scene: The very first zombie we see killed is a child, an eight- or nine-year-old girl with blond hair, wearing pajamas and clutching the remains of a teddy bear. This in itself indicates a more somber tone than is often the case in the genre. Those semi-comedic killing games I mentioned earlier? Yeah, not really comedic when a kid is the target. But the more stirring incident, in my opinion, occurs later. In it, Rick Grimes has been rescued by father-and-son team Morgan and Duane, had the crisis explained to him, and is setting off to find his family. But first, he sees a legless, decomposing zombie crawling through the grass. Instead of whooping it up and seeing if he can get the creature with one casual shot, Rick walks up to it, says “I’m sorry this happened to you,” and only then blows its brains out. Coupled with simultaneous shots of Morgan’s internal struggle as he tries to shoot his dead-and-turned wife, this scene made it clear the show was not to be a festival of guns and gore.

At other times, of course, we do see zombies dispatched in a more lackadaisical manner, but rarely if ever does it come across as sadistic. To me, this also seems truer to life. It couldn’t be easy, even knowing a zombie had to be killed, to put a gun to what was once somebody’s parent or child or spouse, an innocent human being, and pull the trigger. Maybe you’d get more jaded about it over time, but then TWD isn’t far along, either. It just seems to reflect more accurately how real people would behave when placed in that situation.

This realism is reinforced by how the characters themselves are developed and deepened. While there are several people we think we can describe as “good guys,” there really isn’t anyone so far that can be described as a clear-cut villain. Take the character of Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker), who appears in the second episode. When we first meet him, he appears to be another mindless racist Southern redneck, hoisting his gun and making slurs against a black member of the group. This, incidentally, became Commentarama Reason #389 To Bash Big HollywoodTM, which BH earned for running an atrocious piece bashing this episode. According to BH, this was a classic example of left-wing Hollywood perpetuating Southern stereotypes. That happens, of course, but it almost certainly was not the case here. Had the author given the episode more than a superficial viewing, he would have noticed that Dixon had no problem teaming up with said black member as long as it served “our common interests,” and beyond that, the man displays a wide range of genuine emotions, from fear to anger to regret to determination and so on. The character is not a stereotype, but a unique individual—a deeply flawed one, to be sure, but a unique one nonetheless. Again, this contributes to TWD’s simulation of reality, because we can feel like these are real people we’re watching. In fact, the episode generally seen as the weakest of the season, “Vatos,” includes a tough-talking Hispanic gang, which we quickly find out have hearts of gold and are charitable and so on. This feels formulaic and predictable—aka, not real.

Finally, I must mention the metaphorical meaning of the show’s title. The Walking Dead does not refer, primarily, to the zombies. Remember in The Terminator, when Kyle Reese stressed the need to “stay alive—in here [the head] and in here [the heart]”? (Did he say that? Ah, screw it, work with me here.) That’s really the struggle the characters in this series face; traveling through some of the most brutalizing, dehumanizing conditions imaginable, they face a daily struggle to hold on to their reason and their compassion, and to avoid becoming as cold and soulless as the corpses they flee from. It is they who are, or at least are in danger of becoming, “The Walking Dead.” Their efforts to avoid this fate are at the heart of the graphic novels, and will surely continue to be at the heart of the TV show, too.

TWD hasn’t been perfect. Some of its characters need fleshing out, and it’ll be interesting to see whether the writers can continue to keep the audience so engaged in the show in upcoming seasons. But so far, it’s off to a good start, thanks to rising above mindless gore and giving us realistic characters and plot lines and making us feel connected to the drama on the screen. Hollywood, please take note.

53 comments:

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Thanks for the excellent review! I really liked this show and will share some thoughts shortly.... work calls.

Tennessee Jed said...

Interesting and good review, T. As I read this review, it became clear to me that one of the worst parts of growing old is you get limited by habits. By this I mean I grew up when there were three networks putting out dramatic content. Today, most of the best shows are being put on cable channels. I miss a lot of it, because of two reasons. 1) with the exception of "The Closer" the shows do not get promoted well. Sometimes I hear about a gem like "Mad Men" but usually not. 2) because I am a geezer, I don't seem to have a good way to hone in on new prosising series.

I also find this to be interesting in light of the recent review of Zombie flicks. Looks like a bright exception.

T-Rav said...

Happy to oblige, Andrew!

By the way, as kind of a shout-out, AMC is promising a sneak peek at TWD's second season during the season premiere of "Breaking Bad" on Sunday night. So if anyone's interested in seeing that, then...yeah.

Tam said...

I liked the first season for the reasons you mentioned and disliked it for some of the same. One thing that really bothered me was the CDC going into self destruct mode after such a relatively short time. I know we aren't actually aware of how much time has passed, but based on Rick's survival in the hospital, it could not have been THAT long. I would think that of all places, the CDC would be sustainable on lock down for more than, what, a month? (Okay, maybe longer than a month, but you get my point, right?) That bit of UNrealism really bothered me. One bit of realism that I liked/hated was the GUTS episode. I had a visceral (ha ha) reaction to the characters' mode of blending in with the walking dead. It was very effective and realistic, and disturbing and vomit inducing. Well done. And gross. I'll be watching when it comes back, but probably alone. In the daytime. Hubby doesn't go for the zombie flicks.

Tam said...

Oh...also...I imagine a lot of people would commit suicide in the zombie apocalypse, but EVERYONE IN THE CDC???? Seriously.

Rant off.

T-Rav said...

Jed, thanks!

I'm not exactly sure why it is that cable channels have so much better programming on average than the networks. Maybe they're less restrained by FCC regs; maybe since they have less expectation of high ratings, they don't sacrifice everything for that goal. At any rate, you do find a lot of good stuff on cable. AMC has had some top-notch shows; so have FX, Discovery Channel, TNT, USA, and probably a couple of others I'm not thinking of.

AndrewPrice said...

Tam, I had the same thought about the CDC -- this seems way too quick. I guess it makes sense that if the place really is falling apart, the assumption would be that everyone is dead. But it struck me as not realistic somehow.

You know the moment that was most real to me? The zombie sitting on the bus resting... waiting. In these films, the zombies always move around. But what animal does that when there's no sign of prey? I thought it made super sense that the zombie was resting until something to eat came within view.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed and T_Rav, I have been really impressed with what cable had done in the past decade. Everything from HBO's great line up with things like The Sopranos to AMC's Walking Dead, cable really has turned out some quality programming -- things you just don't see on network television anymore (if ever).

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: When I saw the first trailer for the series, my first thought was "oh, not another zombie story." I'm still not sure how I ended up watching the first episode, given my early prejudice. But I did, and I got hooked. I agree completely with your review, and with Tam's description of some of its flaws. I tend to think the writers were as surprised by its success as I was, so that might explain some interim poor plot/continuity problems. I'm excited about its return.

T-Rav said...

Tam, yeah, "Guts" was pretty awful (I mean that in a gross, not poor-quality sort of way. For those who haven't seen it, this is also the episode in which quasi-racist Merle Dixon was introduced). I nearly cracked up when they were smearing the guts on themselves, and Rick said to just think of good things like puppies and kittens, and the black guy added "Dead kittens," after which vomiting ensued. It's like I have a twin...

I don't recall exactly, but I think the CDC guy said it had been six months since the first zombie outbreak, and two or three since it had gone global/Defcon 1 apocalyptic. Either way, that's probably a fair point about the facility--he said some had fled and others had killed themselves, but still, that seems a little unreasonable. The problem with shows like these is they have to be realistic without perfectly mirroring reality--that is, you do sometimes have to sacrifice details like these for the sake of the plot and keeping the audience engaged. (The next time I do a TV review, I'll have more to say about this.) But overall, I think TWD has done a good job with the realism thus far.

Tam said...

I agree in general. I think the realism and the characters and the fact that it isn't a gore-fest are what have kept me engaged. And, it's a zombie show. I can accept a little bit of fudging on reality. Even with that, the CDC thing stuck out to me. Not enough to ruin the show for me by any means.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I haven't seen most of the older cable shows like "The Sopranos," but HBO and other channels originally had a lot of good programming that paved the way for the rest of cable. Of course, now it's mainly blood- and sex-fests like "True Blood," but whatever.

It's interesting, the moments in this show that have jumped out at people for their realism. One which struck me (and didn't make it into the final review), was when Rick procured some guns from the police station for his rescuers, Morgan and Duane, and warned them to conserve their ammo. "It goes a lot faster than you think, especially in target practice." I thought it was kind of cool that something like that got pointed out, because of course guns and ammo would become increasingly scarce in this situation, and it's nice to see someone finally point this detail out.

Tam said...

One thing that I LOVED (especially as a conservative gun-owner) was when Rick told the kid in the Morgan-Duane duo (I can't remember who was whom...) "Don't pull the trigger unless you mean it." or "When you pull the trigger, you better mean it." I think that spoke both to conserving ammo, but also to being serious and responsible with your weapon.

T-Rav said...

LawHawk, that's understandable in light of how some of these films and programs have gone in the past. I think it caught on in part of the slick marketing campaign--the Halloween premiere, for example, and the image of the lead character riding on horseback into the big city, with thousands of wrecked cars around him. That was a clever way to get people's attention.

The second season should be interesting. I'm hoping this love triangle between Rick, his wife, and his cop best friend gets cleared up pretty fast, because that could be a real weak spot.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, My favorite was on Showtime -- "Carnivale." That was really great. Unfortunately, it got canceled before they could reach the final ending ending. "Sopranos" was good, as was "Weeds" when it started and some others. But yeah, they've gone the sex and violence route right now. But AMC has really stepped up its game at the same time.

I recall the moment you're talking about and I thought that was great too because so many films seem to think that it's cool just to have people spraying bullets like water from a hose. People trained to use guns don't shoot that way and ammo doesn't last forever. It's always nice to see a more realistic portrayal of guns.

The other thing I really liked, believe it or not, was the Hispanic gang. I honestly think that people will step up and help out those who can't help themselves. Human history is full of that. And I thought it was great that for once a zombie film showed some people actually living up to the better parts of human nature. I can even forgive the PC-ness of the scene.

CrispyRice said...

Zombie movies are kind of hit and miss with me 'cause I don't do gore all the well. Nevertheless, I'm proud to say that I have a super-high survival prognosis on most online Zombie Survival Scenario Quizzes. :D

We got this from Netflix, and it's a good thing. I would have given up after the 1st ep as too bloody, but since we'd rented them, we stuck them out, and now I'm hooked. I like your point about the living being walking dead.

And I'm totally with Tam on the CDC. Really?? Sheesh.

Anyway, I would take issue with your opinion that the show isn't really PC. All the bad people are racist, wife-beating white males, and on the other hand you have the peaceful old guy, the sage black man, the misunderstood gang-bangers, and liberal women who clearly are such a better person than thou. >>eyeroll<<

Still, an enjoyable show.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: Great review, and I sincerely apologize for addressing my comment to Andrew. Force of habit.

I agree on the love triangle thing. There's too much going on as is, and the battle between those two needs to get resolved or dropped.

T-Rav said...

Tam, clearly our minds are on the same track! :-) Yes, I can see how that would appeal to gun owners. As for the CDC, I think that's often the measure of how well a show is doing: whether or not you're entertained enough overall to put aside little details like that.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I guess that's one way to look at the Hispanic gang episode. I just didn't really like it. Apart from the PC-ness, I just felt it was done in too ham-handed a way. One reviewer describing the scene where the matriarch comes out and settles things put it this way: "Aw, grandma! Do we have to stop playing bad guys now?" Plus, it just felt predictable--OF COURSE they turned out to be good guys! Like I was kinda just saying to Tam, the strengths of that short season more than made up for this sour note, but it was a sour note. At least for me.

T-Rav said...

Thanks Crispy! I never got around to taking one of those quizzes, but if an outbreak actually occurred, I suspect I would become a zombie meal in short order. Just a hunch.

I don't know if it's as PC as you imply. For one thing, a lot of the characters are written that way in the graphic novel series (though not all), so they have that excuse. For another, the characters are often more complex than they first appear. Again, I refer you to Dixon. Guy originally comes off as very thuggish and unlikeable. Yet we see him willing to ally with people he supposedly hates; we see him crying, praying, desperately trying to escape--showing real emotion. Despite our negative feelings toward him, it's hard not to sympathize with him. So far, they've largely avoided being preachy about anything, just focusing on the characters and the drama around them. If they can keep it that way, I'll be happy.

T-Rav said...

LawHawk, I noticed that but decided to go easy on ya. :-)

Based on what transpired in the finale, I suspect it will be aired very early in the new season. Whether it gets resolved and left behind so quickly, I don't know. In the first issue of the graphic novel--spoiler alert!--Shane (the best friend) doesn't last very long and it gets fixed that way, but they seem to be keeping him around on the TV version. So we'll see how they handle it.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, The key to those quizzes... if your friend starts showing any signs of not being normal, shoot them. That's how you survive the Zombie Apocalypse!

On the PCness, I agree with you. I think it's not as PC as it seems. It definitely starts out that way, as Crispy notes. But in each case, I think the characters end up surprising us with much greater depth than we expected. In other words, they start out as black and white PC stereotypes, but they don't end up that way.

On the gang, I know a lot of people disagree, but I didn't see it that way. First, I didn't see these guys as real gang bangers. I saw them as posers who were trying to act tough because they needed guns and felt they had to intimidate people to stay alive. In other words, I saw them using the gang model because it was image they could sell, not because they were gang bangers. In fact, if they had been gang bangers, why didn't they already have guns?

Secondly, I was just thrilled to see people finally doing something nice for each other in one of these films. Like I said, the history of mankind includes an incredible amount of self-sacrifice and of people taking care of each other in times of need. There isn't a disaster that isn't crawling with these kinds of stories. Yet zombie films always treat the whole race as horrifically selfish and unwilling to lift a finger to help anyone. I liked the fact this was different. These guys were doing the same thing Grimes was doing -- trying to protect the people who could not protect themselves. I liked that.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, that's a reasonable way to look at it, I suppose. Maybe if they'd done a little bit to explain the group's backstory, that would have been a little more clear. Or maybe they did and I just forgot it. Whatever; I still don't look at it that way, but it's not a huge deal in any case.

And yes, I guess it was nice to see people actually concerned with helping others in the midst of all that. You do see a little of that in zombie movies, but not much.

Remind me not to get anywhere near you when the zombie apocalypse does occur :-)

ScottDS said...

I haven't watched this show (yet). I seem to reach critical mass where I can't handle anymore TV shows. If I start a new one, another has to go! (Am I the only one like this?) I'll probably give it a shot one day. I have a friend who swears by the comics though I think he's somewhat less enthused about the show (at least that's how he started to feel as the season progressed).

Andrew - did you read the recent article (I think it was the LA Times) about the "unnecessary nudity" on HBO? I'll admit it can get gratuitous at times (just because you can show something doesn't mean you must). The exception is Lizzy Caplan in the first season of True Blood: quite necessary. ;-)

On an unrelated note, if anyone cares to see what I look and sound like, I posted a video on YouTube. The Museum of Science and Industry is putting on a contest where the winner gets paid to live in the museum for a month (I mentioned this in Sunday's open thread) and all applicants are required to do a 60-second video. (Mine's kinda corny at the end but hey, sooner or later I just had to do it.)

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, You'll be fine with me. In fact, we should do quite nicely so long as you don't start foaming at the mouth. :-)

On the gang bangers, like I said, people do disagree. But I didn't have a problem with it. The only two things that bugged me were the CDC and my usual grievance that I don't think we would lose to zombies. I just can't see that happening. But hey, if it didn't, then we wouldn't have the show would we?

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Thanks for the link, that will come in handy if I ever want to send a hitman to find you! ;-)

My article wasn't about HBO per se, it was more about Game of Thrones. In fact, I watched the whole season -- it was just enough to hold my interest. But every time I thought, "ok, this is finally finding its legs," they would stop the plot cold for a five minute sex scene involving something ridiculously out of place. It felt like they decided that the only way to sell this show to the audience was to include a lot of random sex moments, naked women, and sex jokes. But all that really did was weaken an already soft plot.

Overall though, I would agree that HBO is now going more for the gratuitous market than it has in the past. I don't know what sparked that.

Did you have something specific in mind?

ScottDS said...

Not really, just mentioning it. (I might chime in later with more.)

P.S. I'm replacing the video with one sans copyrighted music. I'd hate to be disqualified because the museum didn't want a lawsuit.

ScottDS said...

New off-topic video is here.

Are you asking about specific instances of nudity on HBO? I can't recall but I suppose it's a bit subjective. True Blood is hit or miss - sometimes it gets a bit crazy, other times, many episodes can go by with nothing.

AndrewPrice said...

No, I was just curious if you had a particular point about the gratuitousness.

Yeah, the Chicago Museum will probably care about copyrights. My hit man won't though! :-)

ScottDS said...

If I have a point (which rarely happens), I guess it would be this: if you can set your watch to the nudity and/or sex scenes, then they're being used too much!

(But as a 28-year old red-blooded American male, I can't complain toooo much.) :-)

Now when it comes to sex and nudity, if we're talking about Spartacus on the Starz Network... holy crap.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I haven't seen Spartacus. I didn't care for Rome and this seemed even more "hard-body-ish."

That would definitely be gratuitous -- if you can set your watch by the sex scenes. In fact, that probably qualifies as a porno.

Ed said...

Excellent review. I have to admit, I read the BH review and then skipped the show. I'll give it a chance now! Thanks!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Superb review, T-Rav!

Other than the CDC episodes I found the series to be pretty good, thus far.

I didn't dislike everything about the CDC episodes but it was pc-ish and some of it made no sense.

Actually, I wouldn't be too surprised if several government workers went to be with or find their families, especially as the situation began to look really bleak.
But that many committing suicide? Um...no.

As for the gang that's not really a gang, I looked at it as somewhat manipulative and a somewhat forced way to bring some light-heartedness (at least as it was presented) but still touching to see youts protecting their elders.

Not that I'm against humor or light-heartedness. It's just that I thought they could've done it more naturally. It seems like the writers threw it in as an afterthought rather than thinking it through.

No big deal, and not nearly as bad as the CDC debacle. Neither is a dealbreaker for me.

On cable making better quality shows for the most part: I think a lot of the people at AMC, FX, USA, etc., ain't the usual network dweebs and are obviously willing to think outside of the nice little network box that so many networkoids seem to wanna languish in.

IOW's, the powers that be at the big networks ain't willing to take any chances at all for the most part, nor do they allow (nor encourage) any creativity.

And when one does get a hit all the other networks copy it.

Eventually, I think they will see the writing on the wall or end up with a continuing decline in viewership as they try to affix blame on something else rather than their own idiotic brass (much like major newspapers and the nightly news shows have done.

Afterall, it can't possibly be their dreck that's the problem or the fact that even lefties hate PC crap and cookie-cutter procedurals that were copied from other cookie-cutter procedurals.

Hey, I know! Let's blame the internet again.

T-Rav said...

Hello, I'm back! Sorry for the delay, folks; lightning blew up my Internet last night and I just got it back.

T-Rav said...

Andrew...so foaming at the mouth is a dealbreaker, then? Hmmm...

Honestly, I don't see a zombie apocalypse as very likely, even if such creatures existed, just because of the physics of it. Whether or not dead, infected flesh would rot like dead, uninfected flesh, it would still be just as subject to the elements and thus inevitably break down in a relatively short period. Plus, they're slow and thus have some limitations as a threat (if we're talking strictly real-world, I don't think fast zombies are even possible). And they wouldn't be that hard to identify and destroy: It's the head! Shoot them in the head! Not really that difficult.

But, as I was saying to Tam, it's a realistic show, not a 100% reality show (not that kind). You have to take at least a little artistic license.

T-Rav said...

Scott and Andrew, I'll just leave your own mini-conversation alone, except to say that I saw part of one episode of "Rome." I think there was a rape scene, and then I quit watching. I haven't ever seen "Spartacus"; something about the previews just turned me off. Can't put my finger on it, but shows do that to me sometimes.

T-Rav said...

Scott, I can't really speak for how closely TWD has been or will continue to follow the graphic novels; I've really only read two or three issues. They're bleak--very bleak.

As sometimes happens with these things, I think the pilot episode was out-of-the-ballpark great, the next two were pretty good, and the last three were a bit mixed. LawHawk might be right in his suggestion that the ratings bonanza took the writers by surprise, and they had to scramble to keep it going--I remember there was some row with the writing staff during the season, so that could support his theory. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

But yeah, if you have the opportunity, you should make time to watch a couple of episodes at least.

T-Rav said...

Ed, the BH article was a complete failure, so much so I briefly wondered if he and I had watched the same show. It was so bad that I and several others had to call a truce with the liberal trolls so we could all explain to the other knee-jerk commenters why he was full of crap. It was just a completely superficial analysis of the show. I would definitely recommend watching an episode or two.

T-Rav said...

Thanks Ben!

I agree with you about the gang subplot; it may or may not have been more PCness, but it did feel like an afterthought and kind of shoehorned in.

On the CDC episodes, the high number of suicides was a bit much (maybe you could explain it if the workers had already lost their families in the disaster and felt they had nothing left to live for, but we don't know that), but otherwise I wasn't that bothered by them. The doctor's line about how stupid it was that we burn fossil fuels, for example, I saw more as a product of his mental exhaustion and instability than as an attempt at social commentary. At any rate, we did get to see a huge explosion at the end, so I ain't complaining :-)

Regarding the networks, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for them to change. There's a mentality among them that's lacking (so far) on cable, and I think expecting them to break out of it and see the writing on the wall is asking a lot. There are some good shows on network TV, of course, just as there are flops on cable. But overall, yes, I would say you get more bang for your buck from the latter.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, The other reason I don't see the zombies winning is a fallacy in the math. Everyone thinks "wow, everyone they bite becomes infected, so they will grow exponentially and we'll be doomed."

But that assumes a constant ability to get their hands on new victims. Humans aren't that densely packed. Even if they got their hands on something like a concert crowd, once they got the whole crowd, then it will become a lot harder to find new victims.

In other words, they can got from 1 to 1000 really quickly, maybe even 10,000, but then it will be very slow to get to the next 10,000 -- if they can even find enough people to ever get there.

That gives the government time to call out the cops and the national guard and start shooting the zombies. Since you can shoot them from a couple hundred yards, you need never risk exposure.

The only thing that would change this would be if the disease was timed release or an airborne infection, so that there is nothing you can do to stop the infection.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, that's another good reason. Truth be told, if the apocalypse were to happen, it wouldn't be just from the zombies, it would be from the chaos they created. I would recommend "World War Z" by Max Brooks for further reading on this point. It's left-wing, but it does a good job of dissecting the various elements of such an event, how it might plausibly happen, and what all the knock-on effects would be.

And yeah, if the virus were airborne, that would be a horse of a much darker color. Think "I Am Legend" or something.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Thanks for the recommendation! I've heard of it, but never read it. I understand that zombie books are all the rage right now (no pun intended), and if I remember correctly, that's one of the more prominent ones.

T-Rav said...

Speaking of other recent zombie stuff, another interesting show that aired about the same time as TWD was the IFC miniseries "Dead Set." Basically, it involved a British reality show similar to "Big Brother" that got hit with a zombie outbreak in the midst of shooting. It was only a few short episodes but very good (although they also did the fast zombies thing), and while it may be just me, the ending was about as unnerving as anything I've seen in the genre.

Tam said...

"Honestly, I don't see a zombie apocalypse as very likely, even if such creatures existed"

My niece and nephew are 100% believers in the pending zombie apocalypse. My nephew even recently pointed out the best local walmart to be stocking up in WHEN (not if) the outbreak occurs because of its proximity to sam's club. This is where you want to be, he told his mother. There is nothing anyone can say to convince these two that a zombie invasion is not only plausible, but just a matter of time. And they plan to be prepared.

AndrewPrice said...

Tam, With all the publicity the zombie apocalypse is getting, I'm surprised there aren't Zombie Apocalypse Cults yet?


(P.S. In case anyone missed it, John Nolte at BH mentioned the film site today! LINK.)

T-Rav said...

Sweet! I glanced at Nolte's page earlier today but wasn't really paying attention. That's cool.

T-Rav said...

Tam, they sound kind of eager for the apocalypse. A little worrisome...

I just don't see it as likely, even if it was possible for a zombie to exist. The zombies would have to be fast--and I don't think rigor mortis and the subsequent decay would allow that in real life--or there would have to be a much more efficient way of spreading the virus other than bites. Without those, it's at best a remote possibility. Once outbreaks began, it wouldn't take long to figure out what these creatures were and how to eliminate them, and I simply don't see either the authorities or armed civilians, if it came to that, allowing the problem to progress beyond that.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I think so much of this depends on what actually happens. But one thing I do know is that humans are remarkably good at organizing when they are in danger. If zombies started roaming the streets, you can bet people would be nowhere to be seen until they came back with a dozen buddies with every gun they could carry.

The real danger would be some sort of virus that was airborne or which appeared to kill half the population almost instantly and then they started waking up en mass. That might overwhelm people.

But with the simple bite mechanism films normally use, I don't think the zombies would get very far.

Tam said...

They are eager. It's funny. And maybe a little worrisome! I'm glad I'm their aunt, not their mother! :)

T-Rav said...

Note: The extended trailer for TWD's second season was released today at Comic-Con in San Diego. It looks...well, you can see for yourself and decide.

http://insidetv.ew.com/2011/07/22/the-walking-dead-season-2-trailer-is-here/

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks T-Rav!

Here's your link: TWD II

AndrewPrice said...

Wow! Looks good!

T-Rav said...

Andrew, that's what I thought. According to the link, the new season starts October 16th at 9 ET, and picks up right where the first one left off--that is, as they're leaving Atlanta and the CDC. Looks to me like they're becoming quite a bit grimmer about this zombie business, which as I understand would kinda parallel the graphic novel series. Should be interesting.

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