In the print edition of TIME this week comes, lurching and moaning, my review of AMC’s new zombie drama, The Walking Dead. I liked it—with qualifications.
The extra-long pilot, which airs Halloween night, is remarkable: not only is it beautifully shot, but like all of AMC’s dramas, it makes terrific use of silence, here to create torturous suspense. More than that, it treats its postapocalyptic world with psychological realism, showing the emotional strain and mental exhaustion of the survivors in a world choked with death. The second episode, though, was a letdown, not as well written and relying much more on familiar horror-movie tropes. (The show seems better and scarier the fewer zombies you actually see.)
Since closing the review, I’ve seen a third episode, which, while still not up to the pilot, focuses better on the survivors and their struggle to keep from falling into brutal anarchy. In the end, you can only do so much with zombies: what’s interesting about The Walking Dead is what it says about how the living keep themselves from becoming monsters.