Friday, March 16, 2012

Zombie apocalypse, now

(Published March 12, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Not surprisingly, the gripping horror-drama series “The Walking Dead” has become one of the most-watched shows on cable. Its weekly chronicling of zombie apocalypse survivors’ activities continues to win new viewers from across the globe.

Currently on its second season, “The Walking Dead” was developed for TV by former showrunner Frank Darabont, who recently exited and was replaced by writer Glen Mazzara. Robert Kirkman, who created and continues to pen the source comic book, is still heavily involved with the show as executive producer and writer, helping conjure up a familiar yet altogether unpredictable reality.

The previous season ended with the uneasy group of survivors leaving the destroyed Center for Disease Control facility. Season two starts with the convoy stopping behind a lane filled with abandoned vehicles; the survivors soon cross paths with a horde of zombies, which separates Sophia (Madison Lintz) from the group. Former cop Rick Grimes (Andrew

Lincoln) and the others look for her, but after Grimes’ son Carl (Chandler Riggs) is injured in a hunting accident, they end up in the farm of elderly veterinarian Hershel (Scott Wilson).

Pairings and concepts from the seminal comics nicely make it to the show. There’s tension between Rick, his wife, Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies), and her former lover Shane (Jon Bernthal). Also translating well is the developing relationship between Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Hershel’s daughter Maggie (Lauren Cohan).

The once-grieving Andrea (Laurie Holden from “X-Files”) is evolving into a confident, competent markswoman. The farm is a sanctuary that’s familiar to readers of the comic book, but some things turn out differently.

Characters that didn’t debut in the comics help contribute to the series’ unpredictability. Some that appeared regularly in the monthly title undergo new traumas or are killed off, reminding viewers that most of these survivors aren’t safe.

Still intriguing with its adept handling of human behavior within an apocalyptic setting, “The Walking Dead” regularly delivers the scares as well with swarms of aptly horrific and deftly choreographed undead. And the conflicts will escalate; it was recently announced that the Governor, an important character from the comics, will be played by Brit actor David Morrissey in season three.

“The Walking Dead” airs Sundays, 8 p.m. on Fox.

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