The Walking Dead wrapped up its brief 6-episode “first season” last night, and while we haven’t seen the ratings yet, it’s safe to say that AMC can’t get the second season on fast enough. Meanwhile, the creative team has been out in force. Producer Gale Ann Hurd went to EW to pooh-pooh talk of writer firings, saying that folks were just moving on to other projects. The surviving cast has been resigned for season two. Even Hurd is surprised by how well the show has done.
“Honestly, I think they went up because of [EW’s] cover article,” she said. “When you think about, it’s still genre, and a lot of people might think, well, it’s a zombie show it’s not for me. But we’ve found that it has broader appeal than initial expectations.”
Meanwhile, creator Robert Kirkman has been doing tons of press. He told TV Guide he liked the semi-scientific bits of the roots of the zombie invasion last night.
“I thought it was a great addition,” Kirkman says. “I’m very much opposed to showing what the actual cause [for the zombies] is and explaining how things work, but teasing a little bit is a great thing. If it adds an extra layer to the drama, then I’m all for it. It also led up to the fantastic mystery of the whisper Jenner gives to Rick at the end of that scene. That’s going to play into Season 2 quite a bit. I know where that’s going and it’s really a cool bit.”
Over at the AMC-TV blog, Kirkman answers reader questions::
Q: Should the apocalypse occur, what would you take with you when fleeing your home? — Jennifer Joseph
A: My life. I would commit suicide very early on in a zombie apocalypse, just because I’ve been writing this book for almost eight years and it seems like a living hell.
Q: What was the thought process behind deciding to have the Shane subplot go on longer? — Joshua Beane
A: Well that is a good example of fixing something that I should have done in the comic book. When I was writing it, I didn’t know if the book would last six issues or twelve issues or three issues. So my mode of operation was to get all of the cool stuff out and move on to more cool stuff so I could get as much story in the printed issues as I could before the book was canceled. It was, “There’s a great love triangle. OK it’s over. Let’s move on.” Frank is able to come in and go, “Hey, there’s a lot of value to this story, and this Shane character is very interesting.” His story line is great, Jon Bernthal is an amazing actor and I want to see more of that guy on the show. And it’s a very cool thing because now he has already lived past the point where he died in the comic book, so he’s a complete unknown for fans. I want them to be watching the show unsure of what’s going to happen next, because that’s the best part of reading the comic.
Finally, Popular Mechanics talks to special effects master Greg Nicotero
“My first job was making squibs (explosive packets filled with fake blood) for Day of the Dead,” he says. In 1985, when that film was made, a VFX artist trying to create a head shot could attach gunpowder-ignited sack onto the noggin of an actor or extra (protected by a plate, of course) and detonate a bag filled with red fluid and faux brain material. Another method involves yanking cords that spill blood bags hidden behind prosthetics. These days, that explosive approach can only be used on a stuntman and the wire plug method is time intensive.
Click the ink to find out how they do it these days. The effects folks on Walking Dead actually study forensics guides to make sure different weapons have different blood splatters.
Our own thoughts? The six episodes did a good job of keeping things tense, but in a longer season we DEFINITELY need to develop the characters more. We loved how in last night’s episode, as soon as the refugees go to safety, all they did was get drunk and act up. Very human, very weak. The talk with Jenner set up the real theme of the show: hope vs. despair. In order to cling to hope and survive, our characters need to get a lot more character.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.