Change Is Good – Andy Burns On The Walking Dead Walking Off Course

Are you one of the millions that have totally embraced AMC’s series The Walking Dead? It’s pretty spectacular that a show about zombies has been the most succesful scripted series on the home of Mad Men and Breaking Bad, at least from a ratings perspective. In fact, the penultimate episode of Season 1 which aired this past weekend managed to score more viewers than the 5 million plus that checked out the premiere on Halloween night.

Think about that for a moment. In a television world where even the most succesful series more often than not tend to bleed viewers week to week, The Walking Dead is outperforming itself.

And it’s a show about zombies!

The reason I write this today is that, after Sunday’s Episode 5, I was seeing a fair amount of complaints from some die-hards about the drastic veer away from the source material the series took. I don’t think it’s spoiling either the television series or Robert Kirkman’s comic book to reveal to those not in the know that the Centre For Disease Control (CDC) does have any sort of presence in the comic. This is something that showrunner Frank Darabont and company have created for the live action adaptation. This apparently has got more than a few fans of the print story quite aggravated, since it isn’t a straight ahead retelling of the first story arc of The Walking Dead.

Personally, I thought the idea of heading to the CDC was a pretty cool addition. Sure, it’s a little obvious and feels familiar to other end of world stories such as 28 Days Later or The Stand. But it also makes sense that a group of survivors would try and find some semblance of assistance in their dead world. There’s only so much standing around in a campground that we can watch, right? A slowmoving comic book can afford to take its time, which The Walking Dead does, but a network series has got to have some forward momentum, especially one that has only 6 episodes in its first season. I’m fairly certain we’re going to see some severe mayhem this weekend on the season finale, and likely a wrap-up that feels self contained since the series was filmed and completed prior to a second season of The Walking Dead was greenlit by AMC. Having the shit hit the fan in a giant government complex is ok in my book.

With that in mind, fans are going to have to be open to more left turns as the series progresses. As I mentioned above, Kirkman’s comic likes to take its time. One of the most frequent criticisms it receives is that not enough happens issue to issue (at least in its first few years) – but in the world of comics, that’s what makes the series so great. Kirkman has the luxury of time and a devoted audience that will allow issues with varying degrees of violence and action. TV is obviously a different medium, which means fans may not get everything they’re expecting for the sake of crafting an entertaining series.

Either way, I’m hooked on The Walking Dead in all it’s formats and can’t wait to see how things fall apart even more this Sunday night at 10pm on AMC.

The suspense is eating away at me.

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