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November 21 2010

The Skipping Dead. Prolific Angel co-producer Skip Schoolnik has been busy bringing life to AMC's insidious six-parter The Walking Dead.

Schoolnik was associate producer for the series premiere episode "Days Gone Bye" and--although it's not listed on IMDb yet--he also had onscreen credit for the 21 Nov episode "Vatos".

This is one of the two shows that I most look forward to each week. Very well made.
Skipping Thread morelike ! Amirite ?!

The only thing extraordinary about THE WALKING DEAD is the level fo gore (and that is not a good thing). Everything else is mediocre writing, boring stock characters and recycled ideas.
I disagree. Gore aside, it's quite an engaging story.
I also disagree which means... we're winning the internet, hooray !

(and apparently not too thin a connection to stay so no as it turns out, i'm not rite)
I love this show and I should've known that there was a Whedon connection somewhere. All roads lead back to Buffy. Last night's episode was TERRIFIC.
I'm loving the Walking Dead, but I'm a big fan of zombie/post-apocalyptic stories in general, and the Walking Dead comics in specific. Since Dollhouse ended, it's easily my favorite thing on TV right now. I like the places where they are deviating from the original story, which I've always found one of the interesting parts of adaptations (no "purist" I).

As for the gore, my tolerance (and taste) is pretty high, but here I find it more appropriate than gratuitous. A (Romero-style) zombie is not a monster going bump in the dark; it is a representation of death and mortality. The fate of every living thing. The struggle in zombie movies is to hold on to yourself in the literal face of your fear of death, and to find hope and hold on to life. How the characters succeed or fail is what makes watching them interesting. But by the very concept, it's not for the weak of stomach, and I do applaud AMC for not toning it down to be more accessable. It forces us, as viewers, to empathize even more, and try to imagine what we would do in that situation. In my book, a mark of a great zombie story!

That said, even I have a hard time reading the parts with the Governor. Can't wait to see (or watch from behind the couch) how they adapt that!
Best new show since Breaking Bad.

[ edited by Wyndam_ on 2010-11-22 16:04 ]
Completely agree with Bad Karma.

Nothing we haven't seen before, albeit only in films, and it has (so far) added nothing new or interesting. Besides from the zombies, which are pretty cool, the characters seem like a pack of morons and the story is boring as all hell.
The concept behind The Walking Dead,, and I think it's a brilliant one, is that zombie movies all share one fatal flaw: they end. The three remaining characters get in the helicopter and fly away, and you're left saying, "Okay, good for them, but isn't the whole world still infested with zombies? What happens now?"

In a serial format, those questions can be answered, and we can see the post-apocalypse landscape from the eyes of ordinary people, not the scientists or military warriors who are trying to contain and eliminate the virus. Survivalism has no definitive end; it's about the characters' journey, not about the how and why of dead people eating brains.

Keep an eye on this show. It's going to get scary, unpredictable, and very involved.
Is it as great as Dead Set which is like the best zombie tv show eva.
'Dead Set' was good but it was more like a slightly expanded zombie movie in that it was mostly about the zompocalypse itself.

(and what is that, like 6-2 ? I'm not sure I want to share my hard-won internet with this many people, there may not be enough to go around)

In a serial format, those questions can be answered, and we can see the post-apocalypse landscape from the eyes of ordinary people...

That's a great point I think Kairos. I've read a few people say (with some justification, even though it's early days) "The only new aspect is that it's long-form" but to me that's a pretty big difference because the story of what happens next hasn't been seen that often, not from the perspective of everyday folk. Thematically it feels a lot like BSG in that it's about how you continue in a world minus hope (but plus zombies ;).

Ultimately though, I like horror, I like zombies and I really like post-catastrophe fiction so basically i'm predisposed to liking 'The Walking Dead' anyway (and so far I have).
It forces us, as viewers, to empathize even more, and try to imagine what we would do in that situation.

My personal plan for when the zombie apocalypse happens, is basicaly hid in the neiborhood where there are 4 hiper market side by side ;(

You should try also, the first season of the British show Survivors. It's not about zombies, but a virus almost exterminating the humankind. There are some good examples of the problems the survivors would have and how to restart the world.
Skip Schoolnik was also on "Angel" - he directed a number of episodes, at least in Season Five.

Love title of this thread - I'd pay to see something called "The Skipping Dead." I enjoy "Walking Dead" and I *like* the gore level - it's a zombie show, that's part of what a zombie show *is*. (Although my favorite thing so far was in Episode Two, where everybody suddenly wonders what's happened to one character and it cuts to him driving down the empty freeway at about 150 mph in a sports car, going, "Whee!")
Dead Set was great. One of the few instances where running zombies actually worked (they had to be running zombies to sell the speed at which things go to crap, trapping people in the station).

Only other instance I can think of was the Dawn of the Dead remake, but even then, running zombies weren't necessary. The movie was good, so I'm counting them. Not counting 28 Days Later rage victims as zombies, but for those that do, that's a similar example of them working.

I'm getting off track here. Where The Walking Dead succeeds over the rest of zombie fiction is because of what others pointed out. It doesn't end. For those that think we've seen all of this before, think again.

This is a serialized, character driven horror show. Rare in itself. Adding zombies on top of that and we're in completely new territory, and so far, The Walking Dead is succeeding on every front.

But in comparing to Dead Set, fans of that (or any zombie fiction) will definitely enjoy The Walking Dead, comic and TV show.

Hopefully more Whedonverse connections are in store for this show in the future (hopefully some actors)!

[ edited by Wyndam_ on 2010-11-22 20:30 ]
Love Walking Dead, 2nd after Terriers. If I weren't first and foremost a Joss Whedon/Tim Minear sycophant (I kid!), fan, I'd be one of Frank Darabont's top groupies. I'm totally digging British actor Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes. Darabont found his Thomas Jane in Lincoln to contrast deep emotionality against the background of stark horror. Now, if he'd like to cast some actors well-known to us in upcoming seasons, it would be icing on the zombie cake.
Well, I'm kind of liking that I'm not familiar with most of the cast. I think Michael Rooker is the only actor whose work I've seen.

Also, I haven't read the source material so this series is brand new and shiny to me.
First saw Lincoln in 90s UK series 'This Life', then 'Teachers' after that (which he was great in and which was never quite the same after he left - if you're a fan of his and can get hold of either show they might be worth a look), after that (AFAIC) he kind of dropped off the radar a bit. Sarah Wayne Callies I think i've only ever seen in a few episodes of the Tarzan series from a few years back and early 'Prison Break' eps. The others, I know some faces but can't place where from (apart from Rooker of course).

Not read the comics although I vaguely remember a minor fan kerfuffle when '28 Days Later' came out because of the similarity of the opening scene.
You know, I wondered about that. That opening scene was extremely similar. There was also a similar scene in one of the Resident Evil movies, wasn't there?
Yeah, 'Resident Evil 2' opens roughly like that I think (though it's following on from/recapping the end of the first movie so it's not really the start of the story).

I have no idea if anyone ripped anyone off (here's a blog post that explains the situation) but I personally doubt it. '28 Days Later' was released first and (to me at the time and since confirmed by the writer in interviews etc.) was very clearly referencing John Wyndham's 'The Day of the Triffids' which opens with the protagonist waking up in an (initially) silent, deserted hospital and later leaving to find London gone to hell in a handbasket.

It seems more a case of converging requirements than plagiarism to me, different writers with the same narrative needs reaching the same solution - you need to get your hero to a relatively safe place, where news of the outside world is controlled/unavailable during the apocalypse itself in order for it to be a massive shock, so that we can experience the horror of it through their eyes. Hospital's one way of doing that (prison's another - one of the main cast in UK post-catastrophe series 'Survivors' starts off in prison, the same's true of at least one of the characters in Stephen King's 'The Stand' and so on).
Ah, The Stand. That's my favorite King novel and my favorite apocalypse tale.
It's a great book, Stu Redman is an everyman hero for the ages. Back in the day the unexpurgated edition was one of the very first novels I bought in hardback (bought plenty of non-fiction hardbacks but with fiction - even now - I don't usually bother. Wanted to read it so badly I couldn't wait though).
Didn't know the Whedon connection with this. Should of guessed with the quality.

Although I share the thoughts of those that say it is doing nothing new, that doesn't exclude it from doing it well. It's great seeing Andrew Lincoln in such a lavish production after he was in some very British cult shows and he suits the accent well. The level of gore is shocking, as it should be in a zombie apocolypse. It is certainly much affective then the gore used in Sparticus, which was more reminiscent of a video game then real life.

It has taken a few episodes to get going, but as of episode 3 I am now gripped. I am disappointed to find out it is only 6 episodes long though
No worries on that count. AMC has already rewarded the show with a second, longer season.
Yeah, season 2 was greenlit shortly after the ratings for the first episode came in.

It is certainly much affective then the gore used in Sparticus, which was more reminiscent of a video game then real life.

I understand many criticisms of 'Spartacus' and get that it's not everyone's thing, I really do but this one, not so much. It's intentionally over the top, it's intentionally not realistic, it's a sort of "blood opera" as opposed to 'The Walking Dead's naturalistic approach. The two shows are doing entirely different things. It's kind of like complaining of a shaggy dog story that it's too long.

(that said, if you can watch the "face off" scene and the, for want of a better phrase, "willy off" scene and not be affected then you're more tolerant of gore than I am)
So what do you guys think of the gender imbalance? There aren't many strong women to speak of so far. Maybe Andrea eventually, but up to now it's mostly been women hiding behind the (borderline mysogynist) men to protect them. Not that the rest of the show isn't well done, but I guess Joss has accustomed me to expect better female roles.
You know, I never really thought about gender imbalance until you brought it up. At another forum someone mentioned they were disappointed that Rick Grimes' wife is sort of "just there". She really is pretty much of a cipher thus far. But I don't know the graphic novel series at all, so I have no idea if a woman pops up down the road who is a major contributor to their survival, or if this is really just Sheriff Rick's story for the most part.
I'd hope that'll maybe change now that they have ... what they have from the bag (vagueing it up to avoid spoilers ;). Which is to say, when physical strength is important men are going to fill certain roles better than women because, pound for pound, men are physically stronger than women and that's a simple fact. When there're tools to level the field that imbalance isn't as important. Added to that, without wanting to cast aspersions, it's set in Georgia right ? So maybe a slightly more traditional approach isn't entirely unrealistic.

Also, for this particular group they've got two male police officers, guys who're trained to stay level-headed in a crisis, to use weapons and to some extent mete out violence - if I were in that group i'd happily let them do what they've been doing just because they're better at it than I am (as soon as the group's survival depends on troubleshooting a network i'd be right in there, beating my chest and elbowing them aside ;).

(and in fairness, I only counted one misogynist - and he's seen to be an abusive twat by everyone in the group. Shane engages in casual sexism which is wrong but it's not misogyny either)
That's true. I just wonder why there isn't a female character with maybe a law enforcement background or something similar. Wouldn't someone like that be more likely to survive than ones who don't know how to defend themselves at all? But it's early still, so we'll see.
I don't read the comics so i've no idea what's coming up but it wouldn't surprise me if we met some female characters that're pretty good at taking care of themselves (though maybe next season now since there're only two episodes left of this one).

Not so sure about law enforcement though, wouldn't people like that be right on the frontline when it all kicked off and so be more likely to be infected ? Dunno if that would necessarily be cancelled out by them also being more able to survive (and even now female police officers are very much in the minority right ? Again, no judgement attached but i'd speculate even moreso in the south).
I have no idea what's coming up either, having not read the comics.

But I'm hoping the gender imbalance doesn't last.

I will say (hopefully without spoiling anyone) that there was one scene where I wished that violence had come from women, not a man.
If you mean the scene where the women are joking and doing laundry down in the quarry, absolutely.
Oh yeah. Definitely.
Yeah, I agree. They could've advanced the women's story (particularly after one woman had voiced discontent about doing the "women's work") but advanced Shane's instead.

That said, it was still a good scene IMO because i'm interested in portrayals of men who're at home with violence that question the idea of it always being perfectly compartmentalised, of them always having total control over when and towards whom they apply it.
Hmm. I didn't see that as Shane having total control. I saw it as an abuse of power. He was angry and frustrated at the situation and that made him emotionally compromised. I don't think he was wrong for intervening; but he went too far. He took out that anger and frustration on the other guy. That's not control, it's losing control.
Yeah, that's exactly my point menomegirl (as I say above, the scene questions the idea of total control) - quite often when we're shown violent men as heroes we never see what I consider to be the real-life downside of being skilled at violence which is to say, it sometimes spills over into areas where it's not suitable. People aren't made of stone and a history of violence (in whatever cause) isn't always easy to shake or manage. It's interesting (and rings true to me) to see that addressed.

(since it came up BTW, 'A History of Violence' covers somewhat similar ground, great film)
Oh man, wait until you guys meet Michonne. And Andrea's actually a major badass. Just sayin'.

Until then, I think the gender imbalance is part of the story: ideas of equality have collapsed because so has everything else. Primitive living, in some respects, has to involve primitive thinking.
Wondered about that but early on you never quite know how much credit to give a show. They've kind of broken society down to its most basic elements to see how the group rebuilds it, give 'em the chance to make mistakes then sit back to see if they do. As I say it really does feel like BSG to me in some ways.

(and I had that sense about Andrea too, she seems like she doesn't take much shit off people. The fishing scene with her and her sister might be my favourite bit so far BTW)
They've kind of broken society down to its most basic elements to see how the group rebuilds it, give 'em the chance to make mistakes then sit back to see if they do.

Yes, that's exactly why I'm liking this series. It's about the survivors.

I must have misread your earlier comment, Saje. I knew my glasses needed cleaning. :)

quite often when we're shown violent men as heroes we never see what I consider to be the real-life downside of being skilled at violence which is to say, it sometimes spills over into areas where it's not suitable. People aren't made of stone and a history of violence (in whatever cause) isn't always easy to shake or manage. It's interesting (and rings true to me) to see that addressed.

I agree with that.

Did you guys see this?
Ah, the curse of the Whedonesque front page drop offs has probably moved in on this topic, so no one will see this comment. I want to set the record straight though. My comment about Sparticus was not meant to condemn it, as I spent much of that show with a fat grin on my face. I was just pointing that the violence in The Walking Dead is meant to make wince and feel uncomfortable and it does achieve this aim. Sparticus generally didn't, (castration scenes aside - altough he did make me
feel very inferior before the deed was done, so there was some relief chucked in with the wincing) going for more immature reasons to splatter the screen (again, that doesn't make it bad.)

As for that sequence with the women doing the laundry, it definitely felt quite pointed to me and had good intentions behind the depiction. The final moments did leave me with uncertainty though, when the man came to "save" the day. The wife's reaction to the violence made me think that they will probably rectify this though. Her immediately comforting her husband afterwards suggeated to me that she will probably have an arc where she develops strength and independance. In someways a story of a woman (or man) developing power is a far more potent and important one then where they begin with the power.
Oh, dear.

The 2nd frame totally reminds me of The Godfather, but with extra added humor.
Did you guys see this?

Hah, funny cuz it's true ! Poor Dobbin, that looked like such a nice field too ;).

And fair enough Vandelay ;).

(**spoilers for TWD ep. 4** the depiction of the abused woman rang true to me too because unfortunately women in that situation aren't just waiting for a chance to leap up, be strong and take revenge, it's far more complicated and cruel than that since they've been beaten down so much - physically and psychologically - that they actually start to believe the crap the guy's peddling. Her face as Shane did his thing was, to me, a mix of both fear for her man and fear of what he'd likely do to her as a result - shit flows downhill as they say)
I can't remember the name of the abused wife and it's bothering me. Anyway, she'll shock you. As Saje says, it's complicated and cruel, but one thing I'll be watching for, much more than her character arc itself, is how the other women view her.

Loved that comic. I'm one of those wibbly girls who shrugs about media violence until a horse is involved and then I start wailing. Rick's good guy status went down a smidge in my eyes after he led poor Bronco to his death.
I am curious what everyone here thinks the women possibly could do against a man that size in that situation without eventual rescue from other men in the camp. Strong woman does not mean Michelle Rodriguez clone making funny threatening quips. Imagine the laundry scene as real life- I mean really REAL life-and then ask what you think they could do. The realism of this scene, showing the position women might find themselves in when the niceties of civilization break down, is part of why Walking Dead is such a great show.
Spoilers - Tell it to the Frogs:

I think they could have done plenty, but women are not (unless they are martial artists trained to defuse bad situations, or as a last resort use their skills for self-defense) socialized to strike back. When Andrea tried to defend Carol, she immediately backed off when Ed shoved her. Perhaps as already mentioned, if they weren't in the south there would be no hesitation to pick up the nearest thing that approximated a weapon and subdue the man who just hit your friend in the face. Plus, I think that Ed was basically a cowardly bully and once a show of strength was made he would have backed down. It will be interesting to see though, if by necessity the remaining women will adapt to the situation.
Plus, I think that Ed was basically a cowardly bully and once a show of strength was made he would have backed down.

Have to say, I think that's a wee bit of a myth myself Tonya J. He was a coward and a bully, no doubt in my mind BUT they'd have to actually beat him for him to back down I think i.e. he'd at least need to feel he was probably going to lose. The idea that if you just stand up to a bully they'll back down is widely held but just hasn't been my experience the very few times i've had to deal with actual bullies (he's a big guy and i'd bet he's been throwing his physicality around - to positive effect from his point of view - for his entire life. People will have stood up to him before, maybe even his wife early on, but he'll have won. In his mind women - and the physically weaker in general - are inferior beings and you don't shake a lifetime's worth of experience with a show of strength).

Beating seven different shades of shit out of him works pretty well though ;).

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