Zombies – love them or hate them, there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground when it comes to the zombie genre. I love them, my wife hates them, so watching an entire zombie series is something I have to do alone….when she’s not around to hear the moans and shuffling feet of a herd of zombies.
As with anything Zombie, series are either done well or extremely bad. Again rarely are there any OK zombie series, or movies, or books – come to that. So just for the hell of it, here are 5 Zombie series that I have watched, or am currently watching….with a rating for each.
The Walking Dead – I’ll start with probably the most well known zombie TV series that has attracted a cult like following. If you’ve not seen The Walking Dead, you really should. Now in it’s 10th and probably final season – in my opinion – unlike a fine wine The Walking Dead is not something that has improved over time. I really enjoyed the first season, when the zombie plague first appeared, and I watched maybe the next 3 or 4 seasons, but by that point it seemed to me that they were just repeating storylines or wasting time with whole episodes delving into the relationships affecting this couple or that couple instead of concentrating on the actual zombie part of the series. They failed to keep me wanting to care what happened to the various characters, so I stopped watching. What began as a high scoring 4 out of 5 points for season 1, fizzed out to an overall 2.5 out of 5 points over all.
A spin off, or prequel to The Walking Dead, called Fear The Walking Dead actually had the reverse effect on me. The first few episodes of season 1 I more or less forced myself to watch just because it was about zombies. The acting seemed wooden, the characters were weak as was the scripted behaviour of the characters. For example, having just seen a zombie in the street rip apart an unsuspecting civilian, one of the characters goes into a neighbour’s home to find the guy on his knees feeding on his own dog. He is obviously a zombie not only because he’s ripped the belly out of his dog and is feeding on its entrails, but his mannerisms plus being covered in blood and gore kind of gives him away, but our hero says “Hi Mr whatever….what’s wrong?” and moves towards him. Or they wander into dark rooms without putting on a light…..or they’re out in the woods and lean their weapons up against a tree and wander away from them just as a zombie comes into view. I found myself yelling at the zombie to please eat these stupid, inept people so I can turn off the TV and go to bed. BUT shock horror sensation…..it actually got better over time and the characters developed depth and strength of character. Perhaps the script writers shook off their earlier hangover and sobered up…who knows? So, what began as a 1 out of 5 actually grew to maybe a 3 or 3.5 by the end of season 2.
Next comes Z Nation – I knew after watching one episode of this zombie series that it was too terrible not to watch. It appears to be a bit of a “piss take” and certainly does not take its self seriously. I’m not sure if it was in the first episode, but certainly very early on in season 1 where a soldier and a rag tag group of hangers on have to transport a prisoner, who is thought to be resistant to the zombie virus, from one side of the USA to the other, to a CDC lab where a cure for the zombie virus will be made from the prisoners blood. So far so good. But when confronted by a zombie baby in an abandoned building you know that no good is going to happen when, instead of leaving it there and continuing with his priority mission, the soldier in charge decides to go into the building – alone – and put the baby out of its misery. Of course the unarmed zombie baby manages to bite the AR15 carrying, battle experienced, soldier…so it’s then up to the rag tag team of civilians to complete the mission. It’s scenes like that one that make the series unmissable…..just when you think it can’t get more ridiculous, the writers pull one out of the bag to top the ridiculousness (if that’s even a word) of the one prior. I give it a sold 3 out of 5, because the audacity of the writers deserves it.
Following on from Z Nation comes another spin off – Black Summer was a specially made for Netflix 8 part series that had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.
Jaime King stars in the lead role as Rose, a mother who is separated from her daughter during the earliest and most deadly days of a zombie apocalypse. The action is fast and furious and I had to remind myself to take a breath every now and then. The final scene of the final episode let this otherwise exciting and almost believable zombie series down. BUT, that final scene apart, I heartily recommend it. I was very happy to hear that Netflix had commissioned a second series, again of 8 episodes, but filming has been disrupted due to our real life zombie apocalypse….covid-19. The final scene robbed it of a perfect score…it therefore gets 4 from 5.
And finally, rounding off my pick of 5 is Dead Set. It’s a kind of Big Brother household meets the Zombies. This British TV series again is one you’ll either love or hate. What attracted me to it was that having once accidentally watched part of an episode of BIG BROTHER all I wanted was to be able to let loose the zombie hoards on the contestants. Dead Set does just that. I’ve only just started to watch it on Netflix but so far so good. I give it a tentative 3 from 5 for a good start. What sets this series apart from the other 4 I have featured, is that it’s British so has that touch of irony that Americans just don’t understand.
There are many other Zombie series around but these 5 are my top pics. Thank you for reading…and watching….
I will be back with my personal top 10 Zombie movies list. Stay tuned.