“The Walking Dead” returns this to AMC this Sunday and, despite my own disappointment in the first season, I am genuinely looking forward to this first batch of episodes beginning at 9pm/8pm CST. I’ve been re-watching the show thanks to Netflix streaming and I still have the same issues I had before, but I think they all boil down to the fact that the season was so short, causing the character arcs and the story to have an uneven pace. So, hopefully “Dead” becomes the new “Parks & Rec” and knocks this zombie head out of the park, as thirteen episodes should give them enough room to breathe. Everything I’ve seen up to now (discounting all the behind scenes malarkey) looks very promising.
This includes the six-part nanoseries at AMC’s website that functions as a prologue to the series’ pilot episode. It doesn’t so much answer pertinent questions (though some logistics are revealed) as it does recalibrate our expectations for the worst possible outcomes that may befall our protagonists. In a time travel paradox sort of way, it also humanizes the series’ zombies even more. As TK said in his original pilot review about Frank Darabont’s and Greg Nicotero’s interpretation of the living dead, “[Y]ou also get the sense that they are, brain-dead or not, flesh-eaters or not, suffering.”
Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes expresses this exact sentiment in regards to the “first undead that he encounters” and these new webisodes serve to underscore that moment, that narratively necessary mindfuck that zombies are people, by detailing the all-too-sudden events leading up to their tragic meeting. At 2-6 minutes apiece, they’re probably NSFW due to undead cannibalistic gore, and its best to watch them when you can really concentrate, as the storyline twists back and forth through time like a some kind of Quentin Tarantino movie. But between now and Sunday, I highly recommend giving them a shot (even though it ends on a rather broad note), and if you feel like marathoning season one, AMC is re-airing every episode before the season premiere this Sunday, too.
For now, the first and fourth episodes of the web series are posted below. Don’t worry, skipping ahead doesn’t spoil anything, but “Neighborly Advice” has the best acting of all the “minisodes” — well, half of the actors aren’t terrible — and is a must-see short in its own right.