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Dear Frank Darabont, I’m Sorry

By Brian Prisco | Industry | July 23, 2010 |

By Brian Prisco | Industry | July 23, 2010 |

I didn’t believe in you, sir. Your films come off as hoky to me. It seems like you lack respect for your source material, choosing to take it wild directions. I hated what you did to the end of The Mist, and how you turned Mrs. Carmody up to 11 on the Jesus dial. Regarding what is probably one of the finest survival stories — let alone comics — I was afraid you’d approach this as a studio hack, carving up the fine work of Robert Kirkman for your own agenda. I was wrong. I was horribly, horribly wrong. And I can only say I deeply apologize.

From the moment Gale Anne Hurd walked out on stage, I realized everything was going to be okay. I was afraid they might tone down the violence for AMC, they might sacrifice rawness for somberness. They had already signed Greg Nicotero, so I knew the zombies were going to look fucking great. But I was afraid we’d get a lot of sunset gunshots and a dramatic sting for the music. But Gale Anne Hurd made me feel alright. Because she’s the one that brought us the unpussified trailer for Punisher: War Zone. This woman would toss her babies in a woodchipper if it would make the audience cheer. I figured if they were doing the headshots on set, she’d whip out a Glock and start headshooting extras until the blood quotient hit high enough.

From watching the first trailer, which looks almost page for page from the comics, you know everything is going to be okay. Which is to say everything is going to go to hell in a handbasket.

Kirkman’s heavily involved with the project, actually having written one of the episodes. AMC is known for pushing the envelope, and they’ve done it. I watched Rick Grimes freeze as the camera cut to the little blonde girl in a bloodstained nightgown, her mouth wreathe in gore, stagger towards him dragging a stuffed animal, and I knew that this was going to kill. I’m almost positive that scene isn’t in the comic, but it’s one of the slight adjustments all in the proper tone. Darabont’s made changes, but you can actually palpably feel the respect he has for the source material. He’s said he’s made changes, because he wants the audience familiar with the story to be just as surprised, even while hitting all the major signposts of the comic. He’s gonna walk Kirkman’s path, but he’s going to take some detours. A week ago that would have scared the shit out of me. But after watching the teaser trailer — I’m okay.

The cast, at least the few that I’ve seen so far, look picture perfect. They’ve gone with mostly semi-recognizable unknowns. It’s going to, and should, feel a little like that first season of “Lost.” You’re gonna learn to love these people. I’m already kind of pumped for the Rick, Laurie, Shane triangle — and CRAZY excited for the Carl quadrangle. The beauty of “The Walking Dead” is that these characters are like teeth — they’re disposable but it hurts, and you start to feel it after enough of them go away. The body count is ridiculous and jarring and that’s how it should be.

The trailer they showed was actually pared down for the suddenly squeamish Comic-Con — but they’ve assured us that ax chops to the head and headshots will be “Romero” levels of squirty. AMC is pretty fucking good about pushing the envelope, and so I’m glad it’s on that network. Plus, Kirkman’s already promised that it’s gonna be chock full of dead children. I believe him.

The beauty of the story of “The Walking Dead” is that it’s basically a survival story, about coming together and paranoia and the ties that bind — that just happens to be set during a zombie apocalypse. It’s not to say the zombies are a secondary thought, they’re constantly foremost, but they’re just like the Mist in The Mist, or the lava in Dante’s Peak. Only they don’t look stupid. They look damn good.

For those who follow the comic, Season 1 doesn’t cover Tyrese or Nichonne or any of the other audience favorites. But they’re excited about where they’ll get to take it. Also, they’re considering reaching out to some popular horror directors for future episodes. They’ve also shot everything in color, not the greyscale black and white of the comic.
So, Frank, seriously, I apologize for doubting you, you magnificently salty old bastard. You look like you’ve perfectly captured the tenor of the comic, and this looks like it’s bound to be the best goddamn show on AMC by leaps and bounds. If you miss “Lost,” welcome to your new favorite show. And I don’t even care if you like zombies.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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