Monday, July 9, 2012
I was skeptical that AMC's airing of the pilot episode of The Walking Dead in black and white would prove little more than a gimmick to draw summertime viewers, but I still felt compelled to tune in last night. And today I have to say that I found the uncolored edition of "Days Gone Bye" to be a worthwhile endeavor. Inevitably a zombie apocalypse in black and white invokes comparisons to Night of the Living Dead, and the episode's opening scene when the "Little Girl" zombie stalks toward Rick formed a haunting visual echo of Karen Cooper attacking her mom in the Romero film. The black and white scheme also gave a quasi-nostalgic feel to the scenery, which made the devastation soon portrayed that much more shocking (Mayberry gives way to modern-day mayhem). Lack of color did nothing to undercut the show's graphic nature, as the flies buzzing around prone, rotting corpses actually proved more distinct (and disgusting). I would even go so far as to offer that the black and white was thematically apropos, since Rick's relationship with Morgan comprised the central portion of the unfolding storyline.
All that being said, The Walking Dead could be presented in purple and green and still qualify as must-see TV. The show's greatness is defined by its tense drama and complex characters, not by any stylistic device.
Watching last night, I was simply reminded that there's another reason to look forward to the month of October besides the arrival of Halloween season.