Jeffrey DeMunn must have thought he would be working for a while. If he had any sense when he got the job as Dale Horvath, he would have picked up The Walking Dead trade paperbacks and seen that he lasts a long time before he finally succumbs to the curse of the walkers. Imagine his surprise when he read the script of the 11th episode of the TV series and saw that he bites the big one a damned sight sooner than he (or the comics fan) probably expected.
There is a, possibly apocryphal, story going round that only Andrew Lincoln, Sarah Wayne Callies and Chandler Riggs - aka the Grimes family - are the only cast members pretty much guaranteed to survive the first three series, but the rest of the cast won't find out until the script for the next episode they're filming arrives. If it's true, it's a helluva production incentive for the rest of the cast to try and keep themselves alive - act well, stay alive.
I'd been horrid to my wife, who enjoys the TV show a damned sight more than me, and told her that in the comic Andrea, Glenn and Maggie are both still going strong and that Dale and Carol managed all the way to the TV equivalent of series 27, especially the way the current show is moving the story along. Of course, all bets were off almost from the start with subtle changes becoming massive changes and the introduction of a different bunch of supporting characters, presumably introduced because there needed to be more wanton killing of the group to keep the shock factor high.
If I sound a little jaded it's because I am. The comic book isn't the best in the world, but as an exercise in hopelessness, desperation and hell on Earth, it's probably the world's first car crash comic; you just have to read it to see who dies this month. That gives it an edge. a hook, to keep reeling them in. Time elapses in the comic a month at a time, so the stories seem to go on forever, but in comic style they take place over a short space of time; a year's worth of comics can be two days on average. The passage of time is easy, a couple of weeks can have passed at the conclusion of one arc and the start of another - the reader has the imagination to accept that the intervening days were too dull to chronicle or quite simply nothing happened and when you have a comic that moves the way The Walking Dead does, more than one month of sitting around the campfire discussing their predicament and gore fans get restless; besides, in the medium of comics, this is a wordy book by any standards already. WD has enough of nothing much is happening already, because like the TV show it is about the characters, the survivors, and not the scrapes they get themselves into - that's almost secondary, because, let's face it, there are only so many ways to dispatch a zombie before you start repeating yourself, it's just shown from a different angle or perspective. The comic could quite easily be an illustrated script.
The Walking Dead TV series, as I've said before in other entries, started phenomenally well, but frankly petered out pretty quickly by the time they got to the penultimate episode of the 6 part run. The new series started pretty poorly and now 11 episodes into the second season, the band are still playing on Herschel's farm - the place they found in the first episode of this series; like I said, they probably figured they could film it for about 80% less if they use a farm, especially if they limit the zombie count to an average of three an episode - saves on the make-up as well.
Like I said, the comic is no masterpiece, but the TV series is woeful by comparison. It is inhabited by thoroughly horrible characters and I'm not talking about selfish and nasty because of their need to survive, I'm talking probably selfish and nasty in the old world. Very few of them come out of the series in a good light and as Dale found out, being a good guy means you'll have your insides ripped out by a zombie; who, incidentally, was only there because one of Rick's family continued the growing theme that his wife and son have, of acting like complete and utter fuckwits. Between the two of them I'm surprised all of the survivors haven't died because of their remarkably selfish, yet sanctimonious ways. Rick Grimes should have shot them both or let the boy die and the wife run off with Shane, the cartoon villain. He really would have been better off without them.
I can't see the final two episodes suddenly seeing the cast up sticks and leave for pastures new, which means in the next two episodes we'll hopefully see the start of their being forced out. I apologise, but in the comic the slaughter of the barn inhabitants caused so much noise it attracted hundreds of walkers from all around who descended on the farm and forced them to move on, at the expense of some of Hershel's family and other minor characters. This didn't happen in the TV show, but I think it will happen as the season finale. But don't worry if you like this sedentary pacing; in the comic they find another mug to take them all in for a while before finding a prison to hide inside; but, like I said, with the current pace of the show, they'll find the prison in season 10, if it doesn't kill its viewers with boredom and hate first.
On the flip side; the best TV show I'm watching at the moment is Shameless (US). It is... shameless. It makes even the brilliant early seasons of the UK version seem pale and uninspired, despite using many of the themes from those halcyon days of what is now basically a Channel 4 joke.
William H. Macy, Emmy Rossum and especially Jeremy Allen White are quite brilliant as Frank, Fiona and Lip Gallagher and they are surrounded by a simply superlative cast portraying the rest of the family and all the colourful supporting cast. I don't want to go on too much about it because I don't know if it's getting an airing in the UK yet, but if it doesn't, then it's worth trying to (cough)
download them. You will be blown away!
I admit to downloading the odd programme, usually things I either can't get over here or to save waiting an eternity only to end up disappointed. The thing is, the sites are changing; most of the places I use seem to be putting up torrents for mp4 files rather than avi files and my DVD player looks at mp4s and goes 'meh' at them and ignores their existence. This has meant that the relatively easy job of downloading something like Shameless US has become a bit of a chore and that smacks in the face of the Internet supposedly getting easier. I think the easier it gets the more complicated people think it should be...