Talking Walking Dead – Part One

With Mad Men’s season over, it’s cozy Sunday night slot has been given to The Walking Dead, a show about dead zombies and people who may or may not be dead inside as well. Since the series got so much hype, we here at Extended Play figured it was only fitting to take our Mad Men Chat crew and move on to this new show.

We brought back the Mad Men Chat crew of Heather, Jenn and myself and added one new member: Chel, one third of the podcast Pretty Little Losers and the closest thing I can think of to a ‘zombie expert.’ Call us the TV Crew plus one more. The chat begins after the jump.

Mark: I’m going to kick my thoughts off with a stupid question that keeps nagging me throughout the show: why are there only people zombies? Resident Evil had zombie birds and dogs (and also those things with long tongues which may or may not have been people) and I’ve been told 28 Days Later had some other kind of zombie mammal, so why aren’t those rats which are everywhere affected by the zombie virus?

Jenn: Can we apply a tiny bit of our science knowledge here? I know zombiefication isn’t real (yet) but think of it like a virus. Do all viruses effect humans and animals the same way? Are there viruses out there that makes us sick, but have no real impact on other species? Are there virus that can lay dormant in animals and be transmitted to humans that way? Yeah, of course. Think of the zombie virus like that. Those rats might be carrying it, but they don’t have the biological breakdown to start craving brains from it.

"Don't worry, they're just rats. It's not like we can catch anything from their bites." *catches rabies*

Chel: In the first scene of 28 Days Later we are shown that an escaped chimp with ” the rage” is the host of the zombie virus that spreads throughout the world. But every species has it’s own immune system or unique way of dealing with a disease. This may be a corny example, but in Outbreak, a small monkey contains a disease that kills humans but not the animal itself. In real life as well, humans can’t catch something like heart worms or a flu from an animal just as they can’t catch it from us. It is the genetic breakdown of how we are made.

Heather: I have the exact same answer as the two previous.

Chel: Going back to the comic though, zombie myths and rules are different from source to source, just like in other monster flicks. The creator chooses what rules apply and to whom.

Mark: With that settled, let’s move on to the series itself. Personally, I like how there’s two sides to the surviving people so far: a group that’s lived hardscrabble in the city, going out on marauding raids and hit-and-run type missions where they’re in and out with workmanlike efficiency. And there’s another group surviving by removing themselves from the element as much as they could: they’re out in the bushes, trying to distance themselves from the chaos.

I think it’s interesting to see how both sides have been effective so far, especially since it’s pretty clear there isn’t any real middle ground. After all, you can’t live with zombies. I’m really curious to see how things work out for both sides, especially in how the rural people are ‘settled’ and probably aren’t as mobile as the city people – but they’re not in as much danger, either.

Jenn: This is like my number one complaint from the comic to movie adaptation. Why are we seeing both groups simultaneously? Yes, I suppose it’s a decent narrative, to show how people have adapted to surviving juxtaposed with Rick just realising what the world has become, but at the same time it’s caused us to lose a lot of tension. In the comics, we, the reader, have no idea if Rick’s wife and son are alive or not until he meets up with them. In the show we are instantly shown in a flash-sideways (is that what they are called or is that just a Lost thing?) they are alive and well. Not a good storytelling move in my opinon.

Heather: I’m going to disagree here, I like the way they have introduced Rick’s wife and her hasty actions with Shane immediately. She isn’t a likable character in the comic book, but you are capable of feeling for her, and they’ve made her even more unlikable in the television series. In order to keep the suspense and drama alive, you need that kind of blow to your senses. Rick wants to find his wife and son. Rick kicks ass and is driven solely by the good in his heart. Lori (Rick’s wife) has already given up. They make her a villain immediately, which I think is a good call to keep the viewers glued to the television set.

Chel: I think that if the show had gone the way of not letting us know the mother and son survive, I would’ve been a little more invested with the plot or characters instead of waiting for the soon-to-be awkward ‘I thought you were dead’ reunion. I like the idea of thinking of both sides, of the perspective on living with zombies. Ultimately, in terms of city vs. the woods, you’re fucked no matter where you go . I feel like the biggest disadvantage lies in the woods and the seclusion though. The lack of supplies would deter me. I feel like the city group efficiency is lacking as well. It seemed like besides having people waiting in front of the door to bash somebodies face off, the group was lacking in plans.


Heather: Okay, the city group is simply a tactic to keep them alive. Glenn admits that he only comes in to the city alone and now that there’s all of these people, he’s convinced something will go wrong. He’s angry because he can’t just walk away from them. This is obviously something they’re not used to doing as a group.

Mark: Speaking of Glenn, I think it’s probably early to pick a character as ‘somebody I hope survives’ (and since I haven’t read the books, I’m not sure I want to just to avoid people spoiling shit for me), but I like him. He’s smart – I liked his tunnel plan – and he’s up for adventure; him and Rick donning trench coats covered in zombie guts was a cool idea. He’s not a bad driver, either. And I liked how nice he was towards Rick: he sure as hell didn’t have to help him get out of that tank, but he put himself on the line and it really paid off for everybody.

Jenn: I totally had a Mad Men chat moment reading this at first. Glenn? The creepy kid who stole Betty’s hair? Oh wait, no, wrong show. But yeah, I really like this Glenn too. He’s pretty cool.

Chel: I like Glenn, but I think the zombie guts idea he and Rick came up with was horrible. The risk of being contaminated is way over the top with the blood in this scene and besides, wouldn’t the heat of their bodies give them away to the undead? It reminded me of Shaun of the Dead moment where they get out in the crowds and growl and hobble to blend in for a bit before being recognized. It’s a cute thought and an entertaining scene, but not a very practical idea. Of course nobody dared to think about the change in weather, too.

Heather: Zombies in this story have a slightly heightened sense of smell, they don’t have “heat sensors”. Nobody really knows what the zombie senses really are, especially our characters. As for the risk of contamination, they made sure that they didn’t get it in their eyes, mouths, open wounds, etc. They only kept it on their trench coats. I think it was a great idea. Personally, I would have tried it. When you’re that desperate, it’s either that or death. They have no other viable outcome. It also enforces Rick’s character, his hero like personality. Oh yeah, and I love Glenn too.

Mark: Moving on, I don’t know how I feel about Merle. They’re trying to paint him as the bad guy, I guess, but it feels kind of hallow; I’m not really sure a show about a post-apocalyptic zombie world really needs a clear villain. I laughed when T-Dogg went to let him out of his cuffs – a move that probably would have backfired for everybody, really – and dropped the key. Isn’t this how 006 turned against James Bond in GoldenEye? He’s going to be back, I’m sure, and I think how his character will develop will be neat.

Jenn: Problem number two I have with the show – who the fuck are these people? I’m so confused. The racist stereotype quoting Mel Gibson (classic use of “sugartits”), the black stereotype named TDogg, the black woman and the hispanic man (who we don’t know much about yet but I’m sure they will both also be stereotypes) are not from the comics. It was really the weakest point of the episode, watching them bicker, Rick intervene with a melodramatic speech about how racism doesn’t exist in a post-zombie world. And he falls and drops the key perfectly down the drain in slo-mo? And he tells everyone that’s what happened? And then Rick swears he’s going to go back to save the guy? What am I watching? There is plenty of drama and tension in the source material, people, inventing new subplots never ends well. This is the Weasely home burning down in Half Blood Prince all over again.

Chel: I was really excited during the scene where they introduced the character, as I thought he was going to be the badass Hicks via Aliens type of character: the silent strong mysterious one who knows how to kill, but never talks about it. And then he opened his mouth… and I gave up hope. I think his entire two scenes were shameful character development and by the end, I was really hoping TDogg would just murder him and walk away. If you’re in his situation of ‘do you help out the chained up asshole while running for your life’, you throw the key close or give him the saw and let him figure it out himself. That whole fumble was annoying to watch. I also don’t know why they made him the Mel Gibson racist. If you want to make him the bad guy, there are much better ways.


Heather: DID ANYBODY NOTICE WHO THIS GUY IS? MALLRATS PEOPLE. MALLRATS. Anyway. This is definitely new and not in the comic books. I don’t like the fact that there was so much racism, but – it’s AMC. They wrote Breaking Bad and Mad Men. Zero controversial situations? Pfft. If you really think about it, many people in the story are a stereotype. But, you can’t pretend that stereotypes don’t actually exist. It’s not unrealistic. The key dropping down the drain was pretty corny, and Merle will definitely be back. He’ll probably lose his shit and cause some damage, but he’ll be put out of his misery.

Mark: Over in the camp, we got to see Rick’s wife whose name escapes me bump fenders with Shane, Rick’s douchebag ex-partner. I’m getting a real idea that Shane will end up being an antagonist here, since he’s got no problem justifying his lust. If (when?) him and Rick end up meeting, I can see him playing some dirty tricks to keep him and his wife apart.

Jenn: Problem number three with the comics-to-show! Lori and Shane only slept together once in the comics, and then she was all “that was a mistake, I love my husband”. Their affair is obviously being amped up, and I get the feeling it’ll be revealed they started sleeping together well before the dead walked the earth. I just hope this change to the story doesn’t turn into some soap-y love triangle subplot. Also, the actor playing Shane is the ugliest man on tv, hands down. Am I really supposed to believe any woman is attracted to him? The end of the world must really do a number on people’s standards.

Chel: The whole awkward thought-you-were-dead-so-slept-with-your-buddy story line is not my forte. Am I supposed to feel anything good towards the wife at this point? All I really feel is ” huh…that horny eh?” She wasn’t exactly portrayed as the caring helpful wife before the zombie outbreak and she is just continuing to a new extreme with the friend. I would be more pleased if they kill her off and I can get back to my zombies. It would leave Rick to deal with just raising the son and get back to where they head out next in survival.

Heather: Lori will be sticking around, at least for a while. I think AMC is trying to get you to be sick of looking at her right off the bat, though. The comics aren’t like that at all. Personally, I hated her, so I don’t mind seeing her become this complete wench before my eyes. It makes hating her so much easier. She’s my Kate from LOST. I want her to get punched in the face every time I see her.

Mark: Where do we go from here? I’d really like to see more backstory, personally. What happened with the CDC? What about other cities – are they are bad as Atlanta? Will Morgan ever show up again? And most importantly – how is England dealing with the zombie horde?

Jenn: To see how England is doing, I direct you to 28 Days Later. Or to sum up, “not so well”.

Chel: England will battle through. I just hope we get to some cast deaths finally as Rick is the only character the show has really tried to develop for the audience and even then I feel like I am missing a lot more to him. Once we dive into him, then we can learn some others, until then I have no problem with shortening the cast a little. It needs to happen sooner or later anyways.

I did like Morgan though, if he comes back I hope this won’t become an over protective father character every five minutes like Walt and Michael via Lost. I can just see it now…DUUUAAANNEEE! THEY TOOK MY SON!

Heather: If something like this actually happened and it enveloped the entire planet with it’s tragedy, do you really think there would be anyone around to get that kind of information to us? It would all be heresay. I don’t mind not having a back story. Something fucked up happened. Now I’m on the same level as the characters and just as confused as they are. The writer of the comic book said it perfectly:

“Everything in this book is an attempt at showing the natural progression of events that I think would occur in these situations. This is a very character driven endeavor. How these characters get there is much more important than them getting there. I hope to show you reflections of your friends, your neighbors, your families, and yourselves, and what their reactions are to the extreme situations on this book.”

It has nothing to do with how they GOT there. It has everything to do with how they deal with their current situation, which keeps changing.

Jenn: I ABSOLUTELY agree with Heather here. I always use Cloverfield as an example, but everyone walked out going “well what was the monster? where did it come from?” When the story is following one specific group of people, we’re only getting the same information they are. It’s unrealistic to have a scientist pop up amongst the main characters and go “well, the monster originated from this and this, and this is how to defeat it!” Same concept here. We have a group of survivors and are watching them from this point out. They have no idea what’s happening in other places, neither do we. They don’t know what happened to the CDC or the armies, neither do we. It’s just a group of people trying to survive the zombie apocalypse and really, what more could you ask for?

All pictures via walkingdead4 on flickr

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