I am going to review two shows that I have recently started watching. They share nothing and everything in common. While no where near the same hemisphere as the same genre, they both share three common themes: reluctant leadership, a community of misfits, and survival in bleak conditions.
The Walking Dead
AMC’s newest drama premiered on Halloween night and ended up being the highest rated cable series of 2010. Based on a comic book series (which I am a big fan), the story follows sheriff Rick Grimes as he wakes up in the hospital after an inexplicable zombie apocalypse has occurred. The world now is a cold, harsh place with a sparse population of human survivors. As a sheriff, Grimes is seemingly the only law enforcement left on the planet although almost nothing is revealed about the state of the US or the rest of the world. Danger lurks behind every corner and surviving is based on ingenuity and keeping quiet. Survivors encountered are desperate and flawed while strangely clinging onto a ‘normal life’.
However, make no mistake, this is a DRAMA, not an action/horror series. Walking Dead reminds me of Sci-Fi’s Battlestar Galactica. The villains and action are secondary to the interpersonal conflict of the community. Like BSG, Walking Dead is about how humans cope in dire situations and how they need each other to survive. This series will be a character study not a zombie war.
The effects and environment have a scope of a cinematic level (not surprising since it’s created by Director Frank Darabont). Production value is high and in my opinion, it is one of the best shot tv series I have ever seen. From what I understand, it will eventually diverge from the comic book and explore new ground. I am so excited about this series and it looks like the 8.1 million viewers are too.
Community (Season 1)
I also started watching NBC’s Community this past week. Where else can you find more ‘walking dead’ than at a community college? I know I am a season too late but there wasn’t room on my TV vegging schedule until now. Community follows an ex-lawyer Jeff Winger as he wakes up in a second-rate community college trying to finish up his bogus undergrad degree. The community college world is a cold, harsh place with a sparse intelligent population. Seemingly the only person that has a grip on reality, Winger becomes the fearless leader of a misfit Spanish study group. Fellow students encountered are desperate and flawed while strangely clinging onto a ‘normal life’. Community is about how humans cope in dire situations and how they need each other to survive. These characters have no idea where they are going or what their purpose is- but they just a doing it together as a community.
The writing is really witty and the characters are lovable. I would consider shows like The Office and Arrested Development as cousins to Community. I have to admit that I have not been a fan of Joel McHale until I started watching this. His snarky comments and resistant compassion makes for a great leading character. Early reports are that season 2 is not as strong so that’s making me worry a bit. But for now, I will enjoy journeying through season 1. I haven’t seen any zombies yet but it wouldn’t surprise me if one showed up!