‘Talking Dead’ Plays Role Of ‘Walking Dead’s’ Cheerful Cheerleader (SPOILERS)

Talking Dead Cheerfully Cheerleads For The
Jordin Althaus/AMC

Talking Dead” exists for one simple reason. “The Walking Dead” attracts such a huge, avid audience that AMC can throw on a talk show about it and still get decent ratings, for a fraction of the cost. Nobody should expect or harbor any illusions about it being “Meet the Press.”

Still, the show continues to treat its viewers as if they’re as mindless as the zombies who populate the mother ship. Or worse, treat a fan base that’s obviously pretty sophisticated and diverse as if they were all teenage groupies.

Chris Hardwick’s role as host is obviously intended to be one of unbridled enthusiasm. But after the weeks of speculation prompted by the “Is Glenn dead?” story line, there were all sorts of questions he could have asked – without being negative or accusatory – instead of just acting as a cheerleader and apologist.

“The story we were telling was one of uncertainty,” explained showrunner Scott M. Gimple, regarding the extended doubt the show cultivated about the fate of Glenn (Steven Yeun). Still, the resolution of that plot (and SPOILER ALERT if you haven’t watched) left a number of unanswered questions, most involving the extent to which the producers went out of their way to at the very least misdirect the audience, and potentially mislead it.

So instead of just reading breathless tweets from people who were overjoyed that Yeun’s character had miraculously survived, how about any of the following questions: Why did you feel it necessary to expunge Yeun’s name from the credits? What did you hope to accomplish by issuing that rather cryptic statement about again seeing “some version of Glenn, or parts of Glenn again, either in flashback or in the current story,” as opposed to just staying mum?

Because armed with hindsight, silence really would have been golden. And while a bit of artistic license is understandable, one needn’t be a nitpicker to feel that even a show about zombies shouldn’t become the TV version of the boy who cried wolf.

But no, there was nothing even remotely like that. As close as Hardwick came was putting on a mock voice of someone who might have complained “Why were you trying to trick me?,” only to dismiss that out of hand.

In theory, and as a matter of commerce, introducing “Talking Dead” was a brilliant maneuver. With all the social interaction devoted to the program after each episode, why not tap into that, and the few million fans still hungry for more?

This isn’t a call for Hardwick to conduct a wholesale grilling. He isn’t a journalist (although in terms of adding a modicum of sobriety to the conversation, occasionally including a few of them among the third-party voices would help immeasurably), and everyone knows where the bread’s being buttered. Frankly, the show usually feels like 40 minutes of filler to get to the 90-second clip for the following week.

Still, amid this modern TV renaissance, viewers have demonstrated that they can handle a more elevated level of discourse than this. And just because talk – or in this case, “Talking” – is cheap doesn’t mean that it also has to be empty.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 17

Leave a Reply

17 Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. MyDaddaysCat says:

    Obviously you don’t get it. I and a lot of Walking Dead fans look forward to a review of the episode on Sunday nights. I then watch the repeat with a new eye. Every guest is not a hit, but there are ones like Yvette Nicole Brown (Community) a true who bring a lot to the conversation. I think it was a brilliant idea to introduce the show. .

  2. Anamile says:

    Why would they kill off Glenn???? He was a very strong character who knew how to survive!!! Might as well kills all of them them then!!!

  3. Leashiny says:

    Hardwick has managed to sneak a podcast onto TV. Thumbs up. it’s people talking about something they love. Who cares if it’s not critical enough for you? If you don’t like it, don’t watch.
    You can wait until the next day for your 90 sec preview clip.

  4. Steve Hanlon says:

    This writer is a moron and does not have a clue what talking dead is there for.

  5. Brian says:

    I have to say I’m looking for a way to post the “old man shouting at the clouds” meme here. I know some people thought it was cheesy the way Glenn came back but I could tell the way they shot the scene there was that possibility. The show is never shy about showing innards being ripped out of characters on screen as the character watched but for this they only showed a head shot. The way I looked at it, all the other times the zombies dug in were set ups to allow this twist to be possible.

    As for Talking Dead, I think it’s a great show and Chris Hardwick does a great job with it. It’s basically a book club discussion for the show and they have a surprising range of guests who are fans and truly excited about discussing it. It certainly isn’t intended as a probing critique since it is wholly populated by fans but it is a great way to hear other perspectives on the show and catch details you might not have caught the first time around.

  6. Tré Uselton says:

    Wow, you missed the mark sir!! Did your editor force you into writing this piece? Because this show is obviously not for you. Everything that Gimple and his team has done was fully intentional. It was to put us in Maggie’s position, not knowing if Glenn was ever going to come back. And to go the extra mile, they removed Steven’s name from the credits. If you really think about it, that simple change added fuel to a fire that has burned brighter than any other cliffhanger in history.

    Also, the Talking Dead is more than just 40 minutes of fluff for a 30-second preview of the following week’s episode. It’s a fan forum that allows everyone to decompress from the insanity/tragedy/awesomeness that has just ensued. And if you actually listened to the interviews you have heard responses to your queries. But instead it seems that you are simply an uninterested pessimist.

    And lastly, if you knew anything about Chris Hardwick you would know he has an “unbridled enthusiasm” about everything Nerd. That is why runs an empire known as the Nerdist. So before you run around trashing someone for adding positivity to the conversation how about you take a step back and ask yourself why you have such a negative reaction to a talk show that garners millions of viewers a week (even when it is pushed back an hour).

  7. Sean says:

    You completely miss the point of the show, it’s a fun fan discussion with other fans and cast members , purely to talk people down before they go to bed at night.Its simply entertainment with heart and a love for the show by its Host and the guests that go on .I’m surprised at your bitter attitude in a climate of real world chaos I don’t understand your need to tear Talking dead down. Your article was well written. But it’s tone boring try a little kindness

  8. James says:

    Haters gonna hate.

  9. markorealmonte2013 says:

    Every word you wrote is true, Brian. I believe Hardwick’s contract demands that he kiss every ass that sits on that couch.

  10. RiRi says:

    This season is a SNOOZE FEST so far. I don’t recognize the characters anymore.
    If there is no HOPE in the show …..why watch???????

  11. Phoebegirl says:

    Who pissed in your Wheaties this morning???

  12. Stebron says:

    Whoever wrote this article is a sad person. So irrelevant to anything. You seem more empty than the talking dead. Nothing about nothing

  13. Nick says:

    Yes removing Glenn’s name from the credits didn’t really make any sense (only happened on ep 6 and his faux death was ep 3). That said I did notice that Gimple was watching Steve Yeun like a hawk as he spoke about Glenn’s fate and the last few weeks. Social media (and Variety) has made it well known Negan has been cast and there could be a season ending “cliff hanger” (or finality) I think most know by now what happened in the comics. This “worry the fans” experiment could have lended more weight to his ultimate fate, but the way they handled it, it cheapened it, and just waters it all down. If they want to take a chance, and still be true to the comics, cut Ricks hand off already, and get Carl and his eyepatch acquainted. Wanna take a real chance, kill Daryl (as much as I dislike Rick, I can’t see the show working without him and it’s always been a given the show is thru his eyes, even when he’s not in an episode). What unnerves me is how “edgy” and “deep” these WD writers think they are at times, but it’s really just bloated dredge half the time in recent years. Morgan and Carol are actually the only characters I even feel or care for anymore and they’re now polar opposites of both each other and who they used to be. So much talking otherwise and little to no action.

  14. Mike says:

    Notice how I am the first to respond to this dribble. You can’t even properly review a program that is meant as a purely objective review of another. You’re opinion doesn’t matter. Realize that, just as I have. Don’t take your failed career out on the success of others. Love life, not your own.

More TV News from Variety

Loading