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December 21, 2014

Halloween Zombie Showdown: 'Dead Set' vs 'The Walking Dead'

by Nick Zaino, posted Oct 25th 2010 5:30PM
'The Walking Dead' premieres Halloween on AMCThe zombie renaissance continues this week on TV with two fantastic, inventive series. The 'Dead Set' miniseries, originally broadcast on the Britain's E4, gets its U.S. premiere tonight on IFC at midnight, with a marathon Halloween night starting at 7PM ET.

And the much-hyped TV adaptation of the comic series 'The Walking Dead' premieres Sunday at 10PM ET on AMC with the 90-minute pilot episode.

The shows will overlap by 15 minutes Halloween night, but you won't want to miss a minute of either.

Both shows are must-sees for zombie fans, and take different approaches to the genre. With its effective mix of creepiness, gore, and humor, 'Dead Set' is more of a satire in the tradition of George Romero's 'Dawn of the Dead,' exchanging the mall for the UK set of 'Big Brother.' Fans of 'Shaun of the Dead' should enjoy it, especially an attack sequence to the tune of Mika's 'Grace Kelly,' reminiscent of the pub scene in 'Shaun' choreographed to Queen's 'Don't Stop Me Now.'

'The Walking Dead' is more sparse and serious. The buzz around the show is centered around whether it will live up to Robert Kirkman's long-running comic series of the same name, about a group of survivors in Georgia trying to rebuild their lives despite the plague that surrounds them.

Kirkman has said the problem with most zombie movies is they have to end, which often called for some questionable logistics. The world is overrun by zombies, but we only have 90 minutes to resolve that. So does the outbreak end? Does everybody die?

The question 'The Walking Dead' poses is: what if everyone just had to keep going, trying to work together to survive?

Here's a quick guide to both for the zombie obsessive. Warning: mild spoilers ahead.

'Dead Set' on IFC Halloween'Dead Set'

ZombieType: '28 Days Later' sprinters.
The Enemy Within: There's always at least one human who somehow makes the zombie apocalypse even worse, and you have your pick here, especially amongst the contestants. There's vacuous Pippa, voyeuristic Joplin, or oafish Marky. But the one who causes the most trouble is 'Big Brother' producer Patrick, who can't handle the fact he's not boss anymore.
Grisliest Moment: There is plenty of gut gnashing going on, but even worse might be 'Big Brother' producer Patrick's disgusting reaction when being trapped wears on his stomach.
Why Watch?: Zombies attack the real 'Big Brother' show ('Dead Set' is filmed at least partially on the actual UK set and features an appearance from UK host Davina McCall), not a fictional approximate. Anyone who hates 'Big Brother' and its inevitably whiney and irritating cast of contestants will relish this. There's a dark sense of humor at work here (watch what Patrick is willing to do to escape the original attack), and a truly thrilling climax.

'The Walking Dead' on AMC Halloween'The Walking Dead'
Zombie Type: Old school Romero slow-walkers.
The Enemy Within: This is harder to peg, judging only from the pilot to a much longer story than 'Dead Set.' There will be several human enemies as the show goes on, a result of paranoia and stress. We get a taste of that when sheriff's deputy Rick, the heart and soul of the series, meets Morgan and Duane, a father and son defending their home turf.
Grisliest Moment: 'Walking Dead' picks its spots well. This is meant to be a weekly show, so it wouldn't be wise to start high on the gore and then have to keep topping that. The most graphic moment comes toward the end, when Rick makes his way into Atlanta on horseback and makes a wrong turn. Episode two does have some classic, graphic gore.
Why Watch?: It's faithful to the comic series. Although it has to diverge at points and develop its own plot to make things interesting, there are a lot of scenes taken directly from the books. The comic is stark black and white, and the TV version takes pains to reflect its comfort with stillness and silence, which sets the apocalyptic mood perfectly. There's also a unique level of compassion for the undead for what they've become. This isn't a zombie story, it's a human story.


Other zombie sighting this week:

Community (Thursday, 8:30PM NBC): Greendale gets infected, and the Winger and the group are forced to find their way out.

FEARnet: A couple of classic zombie movies on demand in 'Night of the Creeps' and 'Night of the Living Dead,' plus the more recent 'Zombie Strippers' with Jenna Jameson and Robert Englund.

'Shaun of the Dead' (Saturday, 5PM and Sunday, 3PM, Comedy Central): 'Shaun' is a modern zombie classic, respecting zombie traditions while having a bit of fun with them.

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