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TV review: Violent start for Walking Dead season three
A zombie from The Walking Dead. Image FX
The Walking Dead, extremely popular zombie drama from US cable channel AMC (airing on FX here in the UK), returns with Rick's (Andrew Lincoln) band of survivors discovering an enormous prison. But does it offer sanctuary or even more problems?
At the risk of spoiling things; let's just say a notable character got into an unfortunate situation that required immediate action with an axe...
Pregnant Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) is one of the show's least likeable characters; whenever she's given the limelight for a sulk, I tune out.
AMC's adaptation of the best-selling Walking Dead comic has been an extraordinary success (this premiere attracted a record-breaking 10.9 million US viewers, unheard of on cable TV), but I've never been a particular fan.
I love horror and zombies, but The Walking Dead didn't bring anything new to the genre when it premiered in 2010 - beyond the serialised TV format to explore the concept in greater detail.
"I don't see the appeal of most of the characters"
The truncated first season had a terrific start it couldn't live up to; while the second season started and ended brilliantly, but got stuck in a rut during the middle.
In addition, I don't see the appeal of most of the characters, and it's perhaps significant that the most interesting one, crossbow-wielding redneck Daryl (Norman Reedus), is an original creation without an illustrated source.
A gruesome instalment
Still, I came to Seed, season three's premiere, with an open mind - mainly because showrunner Frank Darabont was fired halfway through season two.
There was a 'coincidental' uptick in excitement and pace during the episodes he had less involvement with. His replacement Glen Mazzarra (who wrote this premiere) now has complete artistic control; I was keen to see if The Walking Dead would continue the improvements made under his stewardship last year.
The Walking Dead tends to deliver exciting premieres and Seed was no exception, especially as it mollified fans grumbling about a general lack of zombies.
This episode featured more decaying walkers than ever before (some in problematic prison armour), all being slaughtered in gruesome CGI-assisted ways, as the survivors battled their way into a maximum-security prison.
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- 97 %Brilliant - this show is enthralling
- Boring - this show is overrated
There wasn't much more to Seed than an unyielding attempt by Rick to get everyone safety behind the prison's chain-link fences and concrete walls. But as they made their way deeper into the prison facility, they had to contend with dozens of zombies.
And on that modest action-packed basis, it's hard to fault this violent episode.
The production values are excellent when it matters; important instalments are cinematic in their execution and quality. In addition, the visual effects are also beyond reproach; there's more gore here than on an abattoir floor, and it came packaged with the (slightly inevitable) shock of a regular character being bitten.
Throw in fan-favourite Michonne (Danai Gurira) - a skilful zombie assassin who brandishes twin katana swords - and it's clear the show's tapping into a more crowd-pleasing period of the comic's history. And that's just as well, because the characters still leave me colder than the show's ambulatory, rotting corpses.
- Verdict: Narratively feeble, but it provides an hour bursting with violent thrills and blood-spattered action.
What other reviewers said
Den of Geek - "Minor complaints aside, this was a strong return to television for The Walking Dead."
International Business Times - "There was more bloodshed than all the episodes in season two."
What people on Twitter said
@SarahMillican75 (Sarah Millican) - "Can I watch an episode of The Walking Dead without my fella? *looks at cat* *cat looks back* *both look at telly*"
Ashton@Asht0n - "The walking dead is the best show ever."
The views in this article are those of the author alone and not of MSN or Microsoft
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