Pilot Watch: The Walking Dead – “Days Gone By”

Let’s get one thing out of the way: I’m afraid of zombies.

I never watched zombie movies growing up. By the time I reached adulthood, I was somewhat indifferent. Until I met Cory. Cory loves zombies. Cory introduced me to the genius of Romero, of Max Brooks, and of course, Shaun of the Dead. Then the nightmares began.

To be fair, I’m pretty prone to nightmares, but zombies were a new threat to my nighttime imagination.

So, I never watched The Walking Dead. It was, what I call, one of my “Read Abouts.” I am only one human being, with a full-time job, a wedding to plan, and a penchant for watching old favorites. Getting fully invested in new series does not come easily, so there are certain series I read about online, keep up with on Twitter, that kind of thing. I can’t watch everything. Of course, the zombies didn’t help.

I have, however, always enjoyed seeing TWD panels at Comic-Con, which usually falls in front of the Game of Thrones panel. TWD panels are always interesting and enjoyable, and they always bring great footage.

Andrew Lincoln on The Walking Dead panel at SDCC, 2014
Andrew Lincoln on The Walking Dead panel at SDCC, 2014

Finally, Cory convinced me. “Just watch the pilot,” he said. “It’s really good.”

I’d be the judge of that.

One gloomy San Diego Saturday (yes, it’s occasionally gloomy here) was the perfect opportunity. And afterward, I could not believe how much I loved it.

It’s a phenomenal set-up. I know this is based on the comic, but since I’m not familiar with it, I can only go off of what I saw.

The cold open was maybe a little too much of a giveaway, though the zombie-girl was kind of scary.

What really stuck with me was the hospital scene. What an incredible way to show both the passage of time and disorientation. Passage of time – something the Game of Thrones pilot also did fairly well, if it is a little too subtle. But those dried flowers – that pretty much says everything we need to know.

Pilots have to do a lot: they have to introduce main characters, get you to like them, and then squeeze a basic story around them that gets the tone across. Here, the story is Rick’s.

The pilot serves as an introduction to Rick, and Rick’s introduction to the new world around him, which conveniently helps us out – so there’s another thing they do really well. It’s a typical writing trope to put a character in the same place as the audience, to give a little more of a “natural” reason to introduce everything. Though cliche, it’s often necessary. And The Walking Dead does it really well.

I do feel like the middle did go on a little long. Quiet moments are always important in horror and drama, but this felt a little too quiet for a little too long; my attention might have wandered a bit here.

Though his riding into Atlanta was brilliantly executed. So was the reveal of Rick’s family and partner. Overall, this was an amazing pilot, probably thanks in part to the comic series

Needless to say, I’ll continue watching, zombies — errr, WALKERS —- be damned.

Originally Aired: October 31, 2010

Network: AMC

Seasons: 5, Season 6 on the way.

Fun Facts: “Days Gone By” was nominated for Creative Arts Emmys for editing, special effects, and won for prosthetic make-up.


One thought on “Pilot Watch: The Walking Dead – “Days Gone By”

  1. Pingback: Pilot Watch | Sarah TV: Making Pop Culture Personal

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