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The Walking Dead: Season 1 - The Ex-Communicator

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December 6th, 2010


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11:29 am - The Walking Dead: Season 1
The Walking Dead Season 1 was only six episodes long - wouldn't be unusual in the UK, but a very short season for a US drama. The last episode was aired last night. A second season has been commissioned, but it will be a year before we see it.

The first season has been a success. It's definitely a classy piece. I have my doubts about the actual implementation of the concept. It is interesting to notice that the series creator, Frank Darabont, has decided to fire all the writers. The plan is to borrow the Torchwood model - use freelancers hired new per episode. Some people say this is because Darabont does not 'play well with others' and ended up rewriting every episode to his own needs anyway. Others think it is because the script quality wasn't as good as it should have been. It remains to be seen if Darabont is aspiring to something he has not yet achieved, or if he just wants a compliant bunch of script robots so he can carry on as he is.

I am glad to see a series that is trying to develop a sophisticated SF storyline, trying to develop the human meaning of a genre cliche: in this case surviving the zombie apocalypse. I don't think it's as good as the non-genre headline drama AMC has put out - too busy, not enough down-time, characters too hastily put together. I get the impression that most of the interractions between characters are plot-steps, rather than windows onto their minds. In a genre environment like that I think you need to develop strong, simple, charismatic characters (as in the best Star Trek or X files for example) and I don't think Walking Dead has achieved either complexity or compelling simplicity of character. However, cripes, it's streets ahead of most genre stuff. Could go either way.

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Comments:


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From:andrewducker
Date:December 6th, 2010 11:38 am (UTC)
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I've read the first couple of books of this, and they were very good. I do plan to see the TV series at some point, but from the sounds of things it's not as good as the books, so I shall try to keep my expectations down to a manageable level...
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From:communicator
Date:December 6th, 2010 11:40 am (UTC)
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To be fair a lot of people think it's brilliant, and I think some of what bothers me is a reflection of its comic book origins, translated into TV form, so may work well if that is your expectation. The plot isn't quite the same from the comments I have read.
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From:andrewducker
Date:December 6th, 2010 11:49 am (UTC)
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The characters, from what I've heard so far, have more depth in the comic than the TV series. I'll withhold judgement until I see it though.
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From:ajr
Date:December 6th, 2010 05:06 pm (UTC)
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Robert Kirkman says the writers weren't fired:
"Chic Eglee is a high-level television writer," said Kirkman. "He was brought onto 'The Walking Dead' with the idea that Frank was going to work on the first season and then go off and do movies. Chic didn't want to be second-in-command on a show when he's used to being a top dog, and so he decided to go off and do something else, which is something that happens and is not a big deal."


Granted, maybe Kirkman is putting his own spin on events, or outright fibbing, but I think his take on events is far more plausible than the speculations you refer to above. It's absolutely not down to script quality - the show's a smash hit, so as far as the suits are concerned that means the script quality is excellent (regardless of anything else). I wouldn't say Darabont doesn't play well with others, exactly. That's perhaps a more negative reading of Kirkman's explanation. And I doubt Darabont had the time to completely rewrite all the scripts to meet his own needs, that's a bit speculative.

It is interesting that they're moving to what, weirdly, people are calling the 'Torchwood model'. I think it'd be more accurate to say they're moving to the British television model in general, but I digress. Taking the charitable interpretation, it could be that they decided that, with the head writer leaving, rather than replace him, they'd try something different. And why not? Presumably Darabont (and Kirkman) will effectively take the place of a head writer, then.

The other reason I find it interesting is because it's often said that British television - especially comedies (granted, TWD isn't one) - should adopt the American model for writing. I never thought things would end up going the other way instead.

I think I'm a couple of episodes behind you at the moment. I've quite enjoyed the show so far. It's not perfect; mainly down to the sexual politics in the show, and some things don't quite work. But it's something different on TV, and they're actually making a proper go of it. And, for me, the images of Dale on top of the camper van are already iconic - I can't recall if they're exactly copying the comic pages there, but for me, they evoke them. I'm already looking forwards to seeing where Darabont decides to take the show, whether he follows Kirkman, or diverges and creates his own story past a certain point. Knowing what happens down the line in the comics, I'm sure Darabont must diverge greatly at some point, as there are several things (one, notably) that I'd consider unfilmable.

So long as it doesn't do a Heroes with season two, I'll be happy.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:December 6th, 2010 05:44 pm (UTC)
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'Chic didn't want to be second-in-command on a show when he's used to being a top dog'? that sounds a bit like 'Darabont was impossible' - which by no means implies he's a poor helmsman for the show. I think fierce focus might be just what it needs.

This: 'it's something different on TV, and they're actually making a proper go of it' Yes, that's exactly what I think. They are giving it a real serious non-embarrassed best shot, and I actually think they might get it together next season.
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From:matildabj
Date:December 6th, 2010 05:29 pm (UTC)
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That's IT? No more Walking Dead? Gah.

I've caught up with it and got completely hooked, to the point where I read ahead in the graphic novel in Forbidden Planet, and discovered there's already one major, major plot point that hasn't made it to the TV series (yet).

Gutted that there isn't any more for a year though, was banking on it doing the usual US thing and carrying on for a while yet!
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From:communicator
Date:December 6th, 2010 05:44 pm (UTC)
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I know. I thought the next season would follow hard upon, but I suppose they wouldn't OK the money until the first season had good audiences.
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From:matildabj
Date:December 6th, 2010 09:13 pm (UTC)
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Ooh - don't know if you've seen this. Simon Pegg (who's a huge WD fan) just tweeted a link to this interview with the writer of the comic books and executive producer of the TV show talking about his hopes for S2 (and he also refers directly to the major plot point I allude to above). Spoilers for the comic books, although as he says, he doesn't know how closely they're going to resemble the TV series from now on, given the differences there have already been.

If you've already seen this... well, never mind....
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From:communicator
Date:December 6th, 2010 09:18 pm (UTC)
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No I hadn't seen it thanks. His favourite character in the show is the same as mine - Daryl. 'I love his behavior, I love his dialogue, I love his crossbow!'

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