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March 8th, 2012

Hazel Butters

Deviating from the script: The Walking Dead

Deviating from the script: The Walking Dead

At Prompt we usually write about technology, green tech and the media, but don’t really cover zombies (no *client / journalist / consultant jokes, please) But you (well, I) could easily argue that comic book culture and technology geekiness are somewhat intertwined. So as someone who spends her days talking and writing about data storage, business process modelling and analysis, real-time processing, databases and operating systems, it’s probably to be expected that I am somewhat familiar with The Walking Dead comics.

Before I talk about the TV programme I have to admit that I can’t even glance at Andrew Lincoln without seeing him crack a cheeky grin as ‘Egg’ from the brilliant Brit TV series ‘This Life’, or frantically pedalling to school in his role as Simon in the much-loved ‘Teachers’. But in The Walking Dead he pulls off a soft Southern drawl so successfully that there are moments when I completely forget his former Brit TV life (think Hugh Laurie shouting “Tally Ho!” or “What-ho!” on Brit TV and then transforming into House, M.D.)

This post was spurred by the most recent episode, in which Andrew Lincoln’s transatlantic transformation was the last thing on my mind. Because at the end of the episode Shane was still alive. But poor Dale, distracted by a dying cow, had found himself floored by a ‘walker’, overpowered, his stomach scraped out, and then shot in the head (the latter was a gesture of compassion by the humans).

The series doesn’t follow the comics exactly but I was expecting Shane to die, so for me this was a big deviation from the comic series, although you could argue that in the comics, all the philosophical frictions were between Dale and Rick (aka Andrew Lincoln, keep up). So it’s kind of on track in a way, just with a different character. The change in storyline means that viewers can’t read ahead. As Dale lay on his back fighting for his life. I was, literally, at the edge of my seat because I really hadn’t seen it coming.

So where’s the PR moral in all this, I hear you cry? (As I feel I really ought to make this post relevant to what I do for a living in some vague way!)

Well, I could say that it’s about the element of surprise – being bold and daring and ensuring your audience never thinks that you are predictable, that they could ‘read ahead’.

Or it could just be a warning that if there’s ever a dying cow in front of you, remember never to lower your rifle, or your guard. I’ll let you decide.

*Delete as applicable

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