Monday, February 11, 2013

A Look Behind the Scenes of THE WALKING DEAD's Suicide King

The scene: The Walking Dead writer's room. A new young writer is being initiated into the process. He's introduced to everyone, handed a synopsis of season 3, episode 9, then steps up to make a few remarks to the veterans:

"Well, the mid-season finale has passed. Let me see what you got for the post-break debut." He ruffles through his papers. "Here it is. 'Rick and co. return to the prison and talk about whether they're going to allow Tyreese and his group to stay.' You're serious? For a midseason debut, that's all you've got?"

"Hey, we've worked with less."

"We're writers--I thought we were supposed to come up with more."

"You're in the wrong place, then. This is the Walking Dead writer's room. You want real writing, the Breaking Bad office is just a few blocks over. They're a lot tougher racket, though."

"Yeah, take it easy, kid. This is the easiest paycheck you'll ever get in this business. It's practically no work at all."

"And we like it that way, so don't get any ideas about rocking the boat."

"Isn't there more than just this, though?"

"Sure. The details are in that paper."

"Tell me," as he scans the paper.

"There's also the Woodbury story this week."


"Everyone in Woodbury is so freaked out by a few gunmen turning up that they want to leave town."

"Why in hell would they want to do that?"


"Seriously. They have a gated community with armed guards and all the comforts of home and suddenly they want to leave it for the zombie apocalypse outside? Where the gunmen came from? It doesn't make any sense."

A throat clearing. "It doesn't have to make any sense, kid. It just has to look dramatic. The big-time fans of our show don't care, and they wouldn't know the difference if they did."

"This scenario allows a mob of people to gather at the gate and create a tense situation. That's all we need."

"All we need for what?"

"For Andrea to do her thing this week. She's a bit freaked out by everything that's happened, and that Liam Neeson knock-off who's been boning her is sort of retreating from the world. She's not too happy with that."

"Is she unhappy about him torturing her friends? Or not telling her about them? Or being a nutbar, in general?"

"She's a little huffy about some of that, but she's more angry that he's pushing her aside."

"Does that make sense?"

"Shut up."


"So anyway, if I can continue... the Woodbury crowd is very upset, so Andrea sort of takes it on herself to go out and talk to them. She's gives them this little speech about perseverance, and suddenly everyone is all smiles and slapping each other on the back and ready to go back to their lives in town."

"Must be a hell of a speech."

"Nah, just a few lines; a bunch of corny, way overused platitudes. Maybe a minute and a half worth."

"And that works, eh?"

"Don't get cheeky."

"It says, here," reading from a page, "that Daryl tells everyone the Governor may have a strike-force bearing down on the prison as they speak, and they take it seriously, but then they stand around talking and emoting instead of trying to get back to the prison as soon as possible."

"It fills air-time."

"And then they stop to move a truck out of the road later and take a break for even more of the same."

"It fills air-time!"

"They acknowledge they may have a whole town to fight, lose Daryl, then Rick is telling Michonne he's going to kick her out of the prison as soon as possible, and doesn't want any of Tyreese's group to stay, either?"

"It makes it more dramatic."

"Yeah, but does Rick actually want to win, when it comes to this fight?"

"Knock it off."

"Yeah, you're nitpicking."

"Instead of doing anything to prepare the prison for a fight that could break out at any moment, they all stand around having Lifetieme movie moments among themselves."

"Knock it OFF!"

"And Maggie didn't get raped, but all through the story everyone is acting like she did."


A pause, then a sudden burst of laughter. "This!," he says, pointing to a line on the page before him. "This is great!"

"Hey, he actually likes something! How about that? What is it?"

"This line from Hershel about Michonne; he's just let her go to sleep then says she's had a concussion?"

Laughter all around. "I'm tellin' you, kid, NO ONE will notice!" Laughter continues.

Finally, "Well, whaddya' think, kid? We need a few more minutes to make it whole. You've seen how we operate. Think you can make a valuable contribution? There's a big paycheck in it."

A contemplative pause, and a smile crosses the young writer's lips. "Yeah. YEAH! I think I can!"

"Well, don't leave us in suspense--we may start thinking we're working on a different show!" Laughter.

"Well... when Rick is thinking over whether he should allow Tyreese to stay, why don't we flip his crazy switch and have him see the ghost of Lori floating over him?!"

"Yeah? Keep going."

"He's about to pronounce sentence, and we just have him go apeshit crazy, babbling, talking to the ghost, waving his pistol around!"

"Wow! That's... totally stupid."

"Yeah, it's great!"


"Damn right it's great! We'll go with that!"

"Yeah!" High-fives around the room. "Hey, can I name the episode, too?"

"You got a good title for it?"

"Well, I saw this kick-ass Christopher Walken flick last night called THE SUICIDE KINGS. Why don't we call the ep 'The Suicide King.'"

A moment's pause. "I like it!"

"I know it doesn't make a damn bit of sense, but..." and everyone in the room joined in for the end of the sentence: " doesn't have to make any sense!" Followed by raucous applause.

Everyone lines up to slap the young writer on the back. "I think you're gonna' fit in real well, here, kid."


  1. Sadly, I don't think TWD writers are so self aware.

    Once again, you have the show's number. Bravo!

  2. I hope you understand the irony of criticizing lazy writing by actually writing a lazy "review" of the show. Inside the writers' room? Seriously? You can do better than that. I enjoyed your initial review of the series, and I think you are right that the show is pretty terrible, but it seems like you're phoning it in at this point. Maybe it's time to move on to other topics

  3. I'll agree with the above comment, it's time you let the dead be walking. This cow is way past its milking capacity. Time to move on.

  4. I completely disagree with the two comments above mine. Your reviews are more entertaining than the show. If you keep writin' 'em. I'll keep readin' 'em.

  5. Rick didn't want Tyrese and friends to join him because he felt so much guilt about Oscar dying. :D

  6. Threatening to rape someone is really fucked up. They're acting like he did because he's a sick bastard. He made her strip and humiliate herself in order to lord power over her.

    Aside from that I think the rest of the review is spot on.

  7. This is an honest quest for you jriddle. Why do you continue to blog about something you completely despise? And why is it the only thing you blog about? Is it the attention you get at imdb? And it's the only thing on your blog called cinemarcheologist. Not why walking dead sucks. It just baffles me to no end. I hate to use the T word, but I'm beginning to think you are a troll.

  8. these reviews are important. in a sea of praise for this crappy show you are the voice of reason, please dont stop these. they are great! You are doing impotant work :)

  9. What does jriddle73 stand for? were you born in 1973? That would be pretty sad if you are 40 and you are still an "aspiring filmmaker."