AMC's Weird New Show That's All About One of Its Other Shows

Slate's Culture Blog
Oct. 17 2011 3:05 PM

Talking Talking Dead

talking dead
Still from The Walking Dead.

Photo by Gene Page/AMC. © 2011 - AMC

Last night’s impressively-horrific-if-tepidly-plotted premiere of AMC’s The Walking Dead brought with it a perhaps more interesting television event: Talking Dead, the first episode of a half-hour talk-show series that will henceforth discuss each episode of Walking Dead that immediately precedes it. The show’s very existence raises some basic questions, such as, for instance: Why? And, Really? Also: Isn’t that what the Internet’s for? Still, Talking Dead’s mix of creator interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, plot speculation, and affable hosting provided a pleasant decompression from the gory tension of The Walking Dead. It’s weird that it exists, but even more weird that it’s OK.

Watching a talk show focused on a TV drama adapted from a comic book based on a decades-old movie premise derived from a misunderstood element of Haitian folk magic is, frankly, a pretty strange activity. And perhaps the best thing Talking Dead has going for it is the hosts’ implicit understanding of this. Chris Hardwick, of the popular Nerdist podcast, began the show by saying, “Welcome to the only talk show dedicated to The Walking Dead… I hope.” 

Advertisement

That justifiably silly but nonetheless enthusiastic tone was sustained by guests Patton Oswalt and James Gunn (writer of the fairly excellent Dawn of the Dead reboot from a few years ago); the whole half-hour was essentially just a bunch of consummate fans spouting off on their favorite show. And that informal mood allowed for the evening’s best moment: When an instant online poll claimed that 99.9% of respondents would spend NO TIME attempting to save a little lost child that was featured in the episode, all three hosts immediately cackled at the callousness and/or possible technical glitch indicated by the number.

Does The Walking Dead really deserve this companion piece? One might think that AMC’s other hits, Mad Men and Breaking Bad, with their complicated plotting and sophisticated characterization, would be more suited to such extra attention. But something about the zombie-rific simplicity and visceral instant payoffs of The Walking Dead lends itself to the fervent, nerded-out enthusiasm of this format. It’s more “OMG did you see that part with the screwdriver in the zombie’s eye?!” than “What did you make of the political subtext to Peggy and Joan’s tense conversation about gender dynamics in the office?” For what it is, Talking Dead does a surprisingly good and natural job of extending the excitement of watching a really good hour of horror another 22 minutes.

So welcome to the future, I guess—where you don’t just appreciate TV, TV appreciates itself for you.

Chris Wade is a video and podcast producer for Slate and occasional contributor to Brow Beat. Follow him on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.