Pack up your shot-gun and prepare to barricade yourself in the local shopping centre, because there is another zombie apocolypse approaching in the states. On this occasion, unlikely Brit Andrew Lincoln is the go-to guy for the country’s remaining un-gobbled inhabitants as The Walking Dead arrives on Channel 5 this evening after debuting on FX last year. You may remember Lincoln from UK dramas and comedies such as This Life and Teachers, but he gives an admirable and believable performance as Rick Grimes, a Deputy Sheriff from the small-town Deep South who has recently awoken from a coma to find the world overrun with cannibalistic living corpses.
This is Lincoln’s first dabble in the genre of horror and he seems to take to it like a duck to water when he shoots a small girl in the face in the opening scene. If only he’d handled Keira Knightley the same way in Love Actually. But it’s the team behind the camera that has been attracting the buzz in TV critic land. Directed by Frank Darabont (of Shawshank and Green Mile fame) and produced by the man who helped bring us The Terminator, we were expecting Walking Dead to transcend zombie genre and bring the cinema to our living room. Could AMC make zombie-lovers of the lot of us? Maybe they could.
There are some parallels to 28 Days Later in this opener – for instance Rick awakes in a seemingly abandoned hospital after falling into coma before the zombie epidemic. He bumps into a street-smart black character (and his son) who explain the grim situation to him and then he sets out to find the refugee camp. Unfortunately, unlike the zombies in 28 Days, the undead in Walking Dead are the old-fashioned sort which shuffle and groan, quite a stretch from the intense, tetchy, grossly violent ones of other modern zombie fabrications. But they did look the sh*t.
In the end we left our central character trapped in a tank, surrounded by zombies and with no way out. He seems a little helpless until an unknown character communicates with him via the tank radio. Curse the writers as you realise you have to wait till next week’s episode to find out who it is! Laugh at the extras who, in one of the closing shots, are supposed to be tearing a horse apart and eating its innards, but instead just keep putting them back. Note to producers for the already-commissioned second series… Get more daring extras.