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Bringing Life To ‘The Walking Dead’

Above: These Walking Dead banners were everywhere at this year's Comic-Con International.

The dead walk among us.

And fans of "The Walking Dead" couldn’t be happier. While registration for next year’s San Diego Comic-Con resolves its technical difficulties, at least some fans can take comfort in watching their favorite award-winning zombie comic come to life on the small screen. "The Walking Dead" TV series was showcased at this year’s Comic-Con to much anticipation and appropriately premiered Halloween night on AMC. It has quickly become a smash hit receiving positive reviews from fans and critics alike. The season finale is this Sunday night.

The cast of AMC's new hit show "The Walking Dead." Season one wraps up this Sunday night and AMC has renewed the show for another season.
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Above: The cast of AMC's new hit show "The Walking Dead." Season one wraps up this Sunday night and AMC has renewed the show for another season.

Based on the comic written by Robert Kirkman with art by Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard, The Walking Dead focuses on a band of survivors struggling to stay alive in the Zombie Apocalypse. Leading this group is sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln). The series begins with Grimes waking up alone in a hospital after being shot in the line of duty. Quickly, Grimes realizes he’s been abandoned in the middle of the zombie attack and sets about finding out if his family is still alive.

True to its “Story Matters Here” philosophy, AMC has created a new original series worthy of its "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad" lineup with more to offer viewers than the usual B-Movie horror flick. While there is plenty of gory zombie action (the scene where Grimes is surrounded by a horde of zombies in downtown Atlanta is intense), the show is much more character driven than your usual movie. One of Kirkman’s goals in writing the long running comic series was to explore more about the people involved in the chaos than is usually told in a 90 minute movie. Who were they before? What keeps them going? How are they going to survive the days and months ahead in the wake of so much despair? Several of these themes parallel the elements that made ABC’s Lost series so compelling.

Making sure "The Walking Dead" keeps up the drama each week are executive producers Frank Darabont and Gail Ann Hurd. Darabont is a veteran of horror movies and such premier films as "The Green Mile" and "The Shawshank Redemption." Hurd has a string of successes with such great films as "The Terminator," "The Abyss", and James Cameron’s "Aliens."

As "The Walking Dead" approaches the end of its first season, the drama behind the scenes is starting to heat up as well. Reports are circulating the writing staff may be replaced by freelance writers for Season Two. Creator and writer Robert Kirkman remains on board as executive producer to make sure the series stays true to the original. AMC has given a lot of support to this project shooting on location in “Hotlanta” Georgia and giving it a distinct cinematic look setting it apart from the other monsters on TV.

The poster for the popular AMC series "The Walking Dead." The zombie drama is based on a comic book of the same name.
Enlarge this image

Above: The poster for the popular AMC series "The Walking Dead." The zombie drama is based on a comic book of the same name.

And that’s not easy amidst all the shows featuring vampires, werewolves, and witches these days. While zombies are the monsters we love to hate they don’t have the passion and nobility of vampires, the primal attraction of werewolves, or the mysticism of wizards and witches. They’re just a mindless bunch looking for lunch. And maybe that’s part of what has made them such a staple of pop culture. George Romero, the “Grandfather of Zombies,” gets a lot of credit for taking zombies mainstream with his series of zombie movie hits. The recent "Zombieland" starring Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin was a huge success ("Zombieland 2" is in the works). Actress/Producer Natalie Portman is going to be doing the film adaptation of the “literary classic” "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies." And who could forget Michael Jackson’s iconic Thriller video complete with break dancing undead and Vincent Price doing rap music? Certainly not the cast of "Glee." For the next Superbowl, "Glee" is set to do their version of the Thriller zombie shuffle.

For those who feel you need additional information on preparing for a zombie attack, check out the very useful "Zombie Survival Guide." Always be alert for warning signs and keep an emergency phone handy. You can also test your zombie knowledge by listening to KPBS film critic Beth Accomando's pop quiz.

"The Walking Dead" is rated TV-14. The Season One finale is this Sunday and can be seen on AMC at 10pm. For a look at the original comic series you can see it here.

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