TV Eye: A terrifying week of dead men walking

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The hero of The Walking Dead, played by Andrew Lincoln, is the strong and silent type. Photo / Supplied
The hero of The Walking Dead, played by Andrew Lincoln, is the strong and silent type. Photo / Supplied

Nobody could have scripted the foam pie man and Slapping Tiger Wendi coming to the defence of that old guy in the TV drama of the year: The Murdochs.

Of course there are conspiracy theorists who believe the whole thing was scripted. I happen to think that's baloney.

But neither do I believe that the man who trained the Murdochs for their parliamentary select committee grilling (if you like your cheese on toast barely warmed through) was a bloke who advises Robert De Niro. What does he advise people about, exactly? How to eat humble pie?

Anyway, that must be baloney because the person who trained Murdoch senior must be the person who trained the zombies in The Walking Dead (last night, TV2).

The Walking Dead's zombies, particularly the half-eaten ones who writhe about as anyone, even a zombie might, if your legs had been gnawed off, are awfully good.

But Murdoch's performance out-did even those. So the year's award for best performance as a zombie must go to the dreaded Digger. It made for terrifying television. Just when you thought there was a mummified cadaver at the table, the apparition slowly came to some form of life, and the mouth moved.

I kept waiting for the mouth to say, "braaaains", at the MPs, but it was Murdoch junior who had the insincerely ingratiating role. The mouth mostly said variations on "don't know", "didn't know" and "no". This was amazingly riveting, despite the paucity of dialogue given to the player we most wanted to hear from.

I do like a good zombie show. Vampires are for teenagers. Zombie flicks are for grown-ups which is why we get properly grown-up flicks like Shaun of the Dead which is known in the trade, apparently, as a rom zom com. Fortunately there's not so much of the rom (for romance) as there's not usually so much of that sort of carry on with your zom flick thank goodness - all that neck-sucking is for the kids.

So far there hasn't been a lot of the com in The Walking Dead. This is serious stuff which throws up some serious questions, such as: why has nobody who is in a zombie movie ever seen a zombie movie? It would save a lot of trouble if the characters knew that if a zombie bites you, you become a zombie and that you really, really don't want to become a zombie because, ew, yuck, you'll be hideous.

Also, why didn't the horse eaten by the zombies last night become a zombie horse? Just asking.

The Walking Dead, other than the unresolved horse question (or maybe I just haven't seen enough zombie movies, although this seems scarcely possible), is terrific. I keep calling it a movie, although it's on TV - but it feels like a movie. It is unafraid (ha, it's the only one that will be; this is very scary stuff) of long silences and a pace as slow as a zombie shuffle.

The idea's standard scary plot stuff: the hero, a sheriff's deputy, gets shot, goes into a coma, wakes up some time later (enough time for the flowers by his bedside to have died and for the clocks to have stopped). There is horror in the almost empty hospital halls and what the hell is in that padlocked store cupboard?

The Dead, who are not dead, of course. He makes it home, finds his family missing, is befriended by a nice, non-zombie father and son, then hits the road (eventually, courtesy of the poor horse, who will become zombie fodder) to head for the city which is a big, big mistake.

So far, so good. The hero's a good, strong, silent type. There's not a vampire in sight. What more could you want?

- NZ Herald

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