The Walking Dead: Zombies in Transmedia Storytelling Age

Following the pervasiveness of transmedia storytelling trend in this age of media convergence, Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile) transforms Robert Kirkman’s much appraised comic book series The Walking Dead into a long form serialized television fiction, thus perhaps expands this re-telling of the original story material to a more than just an adaptation. So far, only four episodes have been brought out; nevertheless, a lot of talk has been circulating within the popular press and the grapevines of television aficionados about this revamped zombie narrative. Here is a review of the three episodes by our friend, Vladka Maggie Bačová. Maggie is a student of the Arts, Culture and Media program of the University of Groningen with specialization in theater and film.

 

The laying potential – The walking zombies – The running profit

A Review of The Walking Dead: 3 episodes so far

By Vladka Maggie Bačová

Filmmakers do not know what next to shoot. So many sequels and remakes appeared that if we should count the original ideas, it will not take so much effort. Recently, even comic books as film source explore its end – when Kick-Ass (Matthew Vaughn, 2010) launched onto the cinemas, film critics said it is almost at the bottom of what we could still use from comic genre. But then Frank Darabont came and showed us that there is still something to work on. Yes, I am talking about The Walking Dead (Frank Darabont, AMC, 2010—present ). I did not read the comic book series which the story is based on, unfortunately, but I have seen so many zombie movies in my life, that I feel adequate to make some comments on this serial. Until now, only three episodes have been made, the fourth one is planned on the 21st of November.

The pilot “Days Gone Bye” introduces us to the main character, the policeman Rick, who wakes up from a coma in the hospital and finds out that the world is occupied by zombies – the walking dead – and there are only a few “normal” people left.  Of course, the plot is classical; we will not see anything new and shocking. Darabont is following the simple schema, clichés (little zombie girl, a father and a son survived, the main character is going to find his family, because he does not believe that they are dead). On the other hand, I have to say that this episode shows how well made this series is. Zombies are made more realistic, camerawork is done highly professionally, actors act more believable. The plotline of the son and the father is spiced up by their zombie mother/wife; the scenes when the father/husband is trying to shoot his ‘zombied-up’ wife is one of the bests.

Second episode, “Guts”, is the actionist. Rick is coming to a big city, we are the witnesses of great fights and our eyes are amazed with huge amount of great created zombies. In this episode Rick meets a group of living people, so we could start to enjoy relationships, which are giving more thrills to the action. In my opinion, this episode is the worst, in spite of what I mentioned before. The most of this hour I could not stop comparing it with The Dawn of the Dead (Zack Snyder, 2004) because of the big store and the relations between people closed together, facing danger. I do not have to add, that The Walking Dead went not so well in this comparison. Also some logical mistakes appeared (the scenes with Rick under the tank, wanting to commit the suicide while exploring the door to escape).

The third episode, “Tell It to the Frogs”, is the best one. The director is focused on human relationships more than on simple killing; he is expressing shifts in behavior and character, people pushed by circumstances, desperation, bravery, cowardice, love, hatred. Zombies are used just to stress the whole situation and we can identify ourselves to the main characters, because they are not just zombie killers any more. To sum up, the atmosphere which the show creator made in this series is oppressive, heavy and deadly. I can say I have not seen such well made serial for a long time, especially when it’s based on comic books and about zombies. If they did not use so many typical scenes and think about logic a little bit more, I could say it was almost perfect. I would inscribe this serial with the potential of a movie. I cannot wait for the next episode.

 

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