My History with the Show:
In 2007, my comic loving friend Kevin told me I should check out this comic called The Walking Dead. He knew I was a big horror fan and thought I’d appreciate a story focused on a group of survivors in a more realistic world. I took him up on it and he was not wrong. I found the comic to be sensational.
Not long after I read the first trade or two, a television show based on the comic was announced. I didn’t pay much attention, because I’ve been around long enough to realize that just because a show or movie is announced, doesn’t mean it actually gets made. Imagine my shock, just a year or so later when The Walking Dead premiered on Halloween Night, 2010.
I’ll go into the original series more on a separate review, since I just re-watched the pilot and second episode this past weekend, but I think you may know what a cultural phenomenon The Walking Dead became. It’s the only TV show I’ve ever known that my very different father and stepmother, myself, and my mother and stepfather all watched. It was amazing to see a horror TV show garner that sort of popularity from folks who don’t even like horror. It truly was a show that everyone seemed to be watching.
I loved The Walking Dead and anxiously awaited each episode until season six when (Spoiler: Negan killed Glenn.) I tried watching more after that, but the show was already dragging a bit and that particular death ended it for me. I’ve thought about going back and finishing it up, and even tried to watch a little of Fear of the Walking Dead, but it just wasn’t the same. I put the zombies behind me and moved on, or so I thought.
Last weekend, I was browsing Shudder when I remembered Joe Bob Briggs had covered the first two episodes of The Walking Dead. I decided to give that a watch and I really, REALLY enjoyed myself. I had forgotten how riveting and well-made The Walking Dead was, especially those first few seasons, and while I had no plans to watch more of The Walking Dead at this time, I saw Joe Bob was also doing a live show for the debut episode of Dead City the following day.
Dead City is a six-episode spin-off/continuation featuring Negan and Maggie in New York City. My wife joined me as I watched Joe Bob’s presentation of Dead City. His commentary during the commercial breaks made for a great end to my Sunday evening. Now… on with the review.
What the Show is About (Non-Spoiler):
After Maggie’s son is kidnapped by someone in Negan’s old gang, she makes a deal with the man who brutally killed her husband in an effort to save her son in New York City.
What I Liked About It:
-The New York City setting is a nice change of pace. It’s dark and I feel like it would be if there was no power, mother nature was beginning to take over, and the skyscrapers blocked the light.
It’s also dirty, and even more eerily because it’s been left sitting for so long. The world’s greatest city is now a graveyard and that makes for an unsettling atmosphere.
-I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get into the show, considering I didn’t finish The Walking Dead, and this is a continuation of it. But I thought the script did a good job at getting folks up to speed and allowing Negan to drop some exposition early on.
-There’s a strange chemistry between Maggie and Negan, and it’s somewhat uncomfortable, yet erotic. It was unexpecting and I think that dynamic may be what will make this show a success if the storytelling stays solid.
-Seeing Walkers fall from the sky was the highlight of the episode and made for a great visual, as well as a satisfying splat.
-I enjoyed the new characters that were introduced, even the ones that were disposed of within the episode. Enough time was spent to make me care, which is always appreciated in something horror related.
What I Didn’t Like About It:
-I’m not sure about our villain for the season. He felt like he was out of 90’s B action flick and unfortunately the show ended with scene featuring him. The scene wasn’t great, and I’m hoping that he’ll be interesting enough to keep me engaged for a season. Luckily, it’s a short series (six episodes) so it shouldn’t be too difficult.
-The majority of the “New York City” was in actually filmed in New Jersey, although some of the show was shot in New York.
Dead City was surprisingly enjoyable. New York City is nothing like rural Georgia, so the atmosphere was enough of a change to make the show feel fresh. I really liked the exchanges between Maggie and Negan, and as usual, Greg Nicotero’s work on the zombies was top notch.
If this was a show set to go on for seasons, I don’t think I’d be so hopeful, but a six-episode series seems perfect to tell this story. I look forward to seeing how it unravels.
I’d rate Dead City a three out of five and say it’s worth a look.