It has been a jolly good week for us who love Zombies and love TV. Zombies invaded the tele during Halloween, and we were treated to not one, but two pretty decent Zombie shows. First up: Dead Set. This five part mini series created for Channel 4 wears its affection for Romero on its sleeve (well, except for the fact that these are fast Zombies.) Set at the "Big Brother" house, Dead Set examines what happens when a bunch of a-hole fame whores try to survive not only in a world of flesh eaters, but in a world without cameras and an audience! The horror!
With it's obvious social commentary Dead Set is very Romero-esqe. Being set in the "Big Brother" house, we are introduced to a cast of characters that I found very hard to root for. The only "likable" one in this lot is Kelly, a production assistant who survives the initial carnage and finds herself in the house with the rest of the contestants. It is up to her to explain to these vapid morons what the hell is exactly going on. Dead Set has some great moments of humor and a lot of gore. It also boasts one of the more depressing endings to come along in a while. I mean we are talking The Mist depressing.
But call me old fashioned--I don't want my Zombie apocalypse tied up with a pretty pink bow. There is no happy ending to this mess. People often ask me what my thing is about Zombies. I find myself defending my love of the genre. Friends say that Zombies are "boring" monsters, that there are no new stories to tell, that they are not "scary." I say for one: Zombies are scary. You can't reason with them, they are relentless, they want to eat you, and that Zombie out there trying to break your door down to get at your juicy brains? That may be your Husband. Or your Mother. Or your Kid. That is scary. And I say for two: the Zombie genre is not intriguing because of the Zombies. It is intriguing because of the humans: the survivors. And here we arrive at The Walking Dead.
I have not read the entire comic series that this show is based on, but I have read enough to know that the focus is on the survivors, not the Zombies. Their stories, their struggles. Living in a world where you are no longer the dominant species. All government and social order has broken down. Everyday is a fight to stay alive. This is the reason I love the Zombie genre. And this is what The Walking Dead is all about.
A man wakes up in a hospital bed. He doesn't know how long he has been there. When he cries for help, no one answers. Blood covers the walls of the hospital. Dead bodies lie everywhere. He sees half rotting corpses come alive in front of his eyes. So begins the journey of Rick Grimes through the land of the dead. This show is as good as I hoped it would be. It was scary. The Zombies are of the good old fashioned slow moving kind and they look like they have seen better days. It was also very moving. I cried twice (three times if you count the horse). I am very reluctant to become attached to risky TV shows such as this: they usually get cancelled and all we are left with is Season One on DVD (Pushing Daisies anyone?). But I have a feeling The Walking Dead may be here to stay. I hope people watch it and get off my case about the Zombies. Try having nightmares about them every night of your life and tell me what is scary.