We watched THE WALKING DEAD Season 7 premiere like millions of others. So…that happened. But in this special episode, world-renowned zombie scholar Arnold T. Blumberg (the Doctor himself), as well as producer/co-host and fellow horror aficionado Scott Woodard, explain why they are now done with that series. If you care to hear their informed opinions about why TWD has now gone too far for even a zombie expert, listen on! The guys also cover the latest two episodes of the must-watch series Z NATION, which remains an entertaining balance of horror, humor, and human nature!
It was back to the Walker Stalker convention for the first weekend in October, this time held outside Philadelphia, PA! We arrived on the 1st of the month – the 48th anniversary of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD – and had a wonderful time meeting new friends and reuniting with a few old ones. And best of all, it was time for me to meet up with the folks from Z NATION!
Brace yourself, because this is a huge photo-essay with over 40 pictures (including a few animated GIFs)…or is that 50?…and every one of them has a caption that tells part of the story! And that was pared down from over 700! On we go…
Oh, one last thing. My father, Marvin Blumberg, is as big a Z NATION fan as DOCTOR OF THE DEAD co-host and producer Scott Woodard and I are, and since his birthday was just days earlier on September 29th, I asked the cast if they wouldn’t mind recording a brief greeting…
And that’s all from Walker Stalker Philly 2016! Until next time!
So by now many of you have already seen the new Season 7 trailer for THE WALKING DEAD debuted at the San Diego Comic-Con, but now the Doc is here to offer his reaction to what we’re seeing in this glimpse of the zombie-laden TV saga’s seventh year! First, here’s that trailer:
And now, how about we break it down western-style, since the show owes a lot to that genre…
The opening montage pulls at the heartstrings for sure, reintroducing all the players while making it clear how hard it’ll be to say goodbye to at least one of them in that S7 premiere. Once again the show makes a good use of music to underscore an emotional situation, and there’s Carol doing her cute “innocent Carol” bit once again. As for the usually-stellar zombie effects, Greg Nicotero and his team appear to be pushing the Walkers even further into decay in a variety of intriguing ways. There will doubtless be ongoing homages to zombies past, as well; that last shot of a horde of sand-encrusted undead even led DOCTOR OF THE DEAD producer/co-host Scott Woodard to say “those sand walkers are so Fulci at the end!” And then there’s the arrival of the Kingdom and King Ezekiel, which leads me to…
…Shiva. We knew that Ezekiel’s tiger was going to be accomplished by CGI due to a variety of legitimate production reasons, but our first glimpse is…odd. Oh sure, it looks amazing, that’s not the problem; it’s just that Shiva really looks like he isn’t even in the same shot with Ezekiel, so the interaction between actors and computer-generated animal may not be all that convincing. Still, we shall see – this is only a trailer, after all!
By “ugly” here, I’m talking more about sad inevitability and an emotional roller coaster ride. We know Season 7 is going to kick off with a jarring death, and Negan’s arrival means the world of our heroes is about to get a whole lot uglier. I’ve talked on the DOTD podcast about the show’s unfortunate tendency to fall into cyclical storytelling, and so a lot of Negan’s over-confident glib dialogue does come off as just another variation on the Governor and other past antagonists. But let’s face it, Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a delight to watch, so although Negan will speechify like every other super-villain, perhaps it’ll be a bit less tedious to endure. I suspect it will also be harrowing!
THE WALKING DEAD Season 7 debuts on October 23 at 9pm on AMC. Invest in Kleenex now.
I’ve been appearing at Walker Stalker Conventions since 2014 (even though I was introduced as a newcomer at the start of this one, but what can ya do), but never before have I had as much fun or been as delighted to be involved in programming as I was this July 9-10 at the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Edison, New Jersey for the 2016 Walker Stalker Con New Jersey! Let me tell you all about it…
In past years, I’ve only been able to appear for one day, but fortunately this time I had the chance to work both days of this sprawling show. Having moved the New Jersey event to this location for the first time, the convention clearly benefitted from the increased space, and they had no trouble packing in crowds on Saturday and Sunday. Of course, the number one draw was none other than Daryl Dixon himself, Norman Reedus, but there were many other fellow THE WALKING DEAD cast members in attendance as well as FEAR THE WALKING DEAD cast, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD‘s Russ Streiner, other actors, artists, vendors, and even a certain world-renowned zombie expert known as the “Doctor of the Dead!”
DAY ONE: Saturday kicked off at 10:45am with a roundtable panel in which several of us, including a random fan chosen from the audience, discussed the TWD Season 6 finale and what might lay ahead for our heroes in Season 7. When asked to sum up the series in one word, I mused about it for a moment then realized what it had to be: “humanity.”
That was supposed to be my one and only panel for Saturday, but I was asked to step in and handle some on-stage interviews when original moderator Jason Cabassi was unable to make it to the show until Sunday. First up, a delightful chat with IronE “T-Dog” Singleton and Scott “Hershel” Wilson at 11:30am. Probably the best part of this panel was discovering what a strong bond these two actors had forged in their short time together on the show.
My next panel wasn’t until 4pm, so until then G2V’s newest contributor Natalie Litofsky and I did a turn or two around the floor, checking out some vendors and discovering just what a huge crowd Norman Reedus had drawn; no shock there. I caught a glimpse of Elvira herself, Cassandra Peterson, and I also had time to say hi to DOCTOR OF THE DEAD guest Roger Ma, author of THE ZOMBIE COMBAT MANUAL.
By the time we returned to the stage area, we caught the end of a phenomenal live art presentation by Rob Prior, who dazzled the audience with a dynamic two-handed painting style as he crafted a deadly accurate rendition of Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan.
Then at 4pm, it was time to head back on stage to interview Deanna Monroe herself, the incredibly energetic Tovah Feldshuh. From anecdotes about wearing zombie make-up in her final TWD appearance to stories of family and famous career highlights, she kept the audience in rapt attention and even gave them a rendition of “Neverland” from PETER PAN. And then it was time to head out and rest up for Sunday!
DAY TWO: Although shorter, my Sunday schedule was a perfect capper for a great weekend. At 2pm I took the stage with Jason Cabassi for my very own panel on the “State of the Zombie” in 2016. Talking about ZOMBIEMANIA, my University of Baltimore zombie college course, DOCTOR OF THE DEAD, and my opinions on the current state of zombie film, TV, and beyond, we had a great time chatting about all kinds of zombies living and dead, as well as fielding questions from the audience.
For my final panel of Walker Stalker New Jersey 2016, I couldn’t have picked a better interview subject than Tyreese himself, Chad L. Coleman. It was an all-too-short hour of discussion about the craft of acting, the deeper meaning of a show about zombies and post-apocalyptic survival, and even conversation about how artists provide meaningful reflection on our culture in troubled times like these.
It’s also worth noting that Michael “Abraham” Cudlitz and the Walker Stalker team have turned a growing social media fan reference to Abraham’s “Bisquick” quip on the show into an impressive charity drive that encourages fans to bring Bisquick and other non-perishable food items, which are then distributed to local food banks at convention’s end. And as Cudlitz himself tweeted, the drive is doing very well indeed:
Having spent many years in the comics industry working conventions like the San Diego and New York Comic-Cons, and appearing as a guest at DOCTOR WHO shows since 2001, I can definitely say that in such a short time the Walker Stalker team has distinguished itself as capable of putting on events that are a delight for everyone involved. I look forward to the next time I get to slip on the ol’ skull shirt and see everyone again…perhaps Philadelphia in October? Until then!
This time around, maybe we should file this under “STUFF & THANGS!”
Get ready for a truly apocalyptic way to celebrate the 4th of July! Debuting this 2016 holiday, THE WALKING DEAD ATTRACTION at Universal Studios Hollywood is a “fully immersive journey” pitting you against “hungry walkers” as you traverse “nightmarish iconic landscapes that bring the most popular cable TV show in history to life!”
This really sounds like every WALKING DEAD fan’s dream (without the worry of little things like the world actually coming to an end). Read all the details here, and check out the attraction’s official website too! And by the way…where’s Judith?