Ready for the Zombie-ocalypse?

    So when AMC began airing the “Walking Dead” television series (based on the fantastic but markedly different comic book) last year, I was understandably jazzed. Finally, a show that takes a burgeoning horror motif — vampires can go put a stake in it — and manages to craft a poignant statement about human nature.

    And that’s what sets “Walking Dead” aside from thriller-dramas like “28 Days Later” or horror-comedies like “Dawn of the Dead.” It is, at its core, not about zombies at all. It’s about humans trying their best to survive — or decide whether living is worth it — in a world where civilization is quickly collapsing around them.

    In a surprisingly philosophical way, “Walking Dead” examines how an apocalyptic world brings out the best and worst in humanity.

    The best: A caring father-son duo take in and shelter Rick, the protagonist, who returns the favor by leaving them with half the sheriff’s armory. The question of why the armory wasn’t cleared out before was never addressed, but I digress.

    And the worst: adultery, suicide and racism. Each character is forced to confront his or her own personal demons in a tight-knit community in which each member must ultimately rely on the others to survive. Case in point: Rick’s cop-buddy Shane, believing Rick to be dead, slept with his wife until Rick strolled back into camp. How awkward.
    Darker questions regarding human morality are abounding. What should be placed first: morality or survival? And what is the point of surviving like an animal when you lose every sense of what it means
    to be human? Deep questions indeed.

    Its slow pace and seemingly random monologues may turn off many viewers — a character literally waxes poetic for several minutes about the importance of keeping time — but in the end, the intended point is made. There is no way in hell we can survive a zombie apocalypse. It’s just not possible. Zombies appear out of nowhere, disrupting a nice family campfire and chewing the abusive father alive until he is no more than a half-gnawed rib cage.

    Actually, part of the fun is guessing who is going to die next. My money is on Sophia, the little girl, walking up to camp as a freshly reanimated zombie. Zombies are not kind to children. Not even blonde ones.

    Now in its second season, the show has certainly hit its stride. Each episode, in traditional “Walking Dead” fashion, comes replete with a fantastic, disgusting “ew” sequence while keeping the show from regressing into a shotgun free-for-all. And still, for our survivors, hope is not on the horizon. I guess it’s time to burn down the stairs.

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