…. how about the talk show that follows AMC’s mega-hit, The Walking Dead? Hosted by Chris Hardwick, Talking Dead is a unique and, in fact, rather groundbreaking show. Launched in October 2011 along with the second season of The Walking Dead, the show consists of Chris and guests discussing the show that aired that night. Guests generally include a key member from the show, from producers Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd and Greg Nicotero, to cast members like Steven Yeun, Norman Reedus and Lauren Cohan. They also bring an added guest or two, often times a comedian, from Kevin Smith to Sarah Silverman, or just a big fan of the show, like Nathan Fillion and Marilyn Manson (an ‘interesting’ recent guest). Chris and guests give their interesting take on what preceded and what may come. And when someone from the show is on, they do a great job of offering their inside perspective without giving away any spoilers.
Begun as a half hour show, Talking Dead expanded to an hour after the midseason premiere of the third season of Walking Dead in February of 2013. There are a number of regular features included, such as an “In Memorium”, where they look back at those we just lost on the show (mostly walkers), an online poll, a Subway “Fresh Buzz of the Week”, which reveals fun facts from the just aired episode, plus questions via Facebook, Twitter, phone and even their studio audience. At the end of the show, they also preview a short clip from the next episode of Walking Dead to whet your bloody appetite. It’s a fun-filled, lively hour that can vary depending on who the guests are. Naturally, the comedians tend to offer a more humorous take, but they can also have surprising insight into the show too.
Talking Dead works so well mainly for two reasons. One is host Chris Hardwick. Amiable, funny, intelligent, and clearly knowledgeable of and a huge fan of The Walking Dead, Chris is the glue that holds everything together.
Confident in front of the camera due to his years of acting, hosting shows from MTV’s Singled Out to G4’s terribly missed Attack of the Show, doing stand-up, hosting his podcast and moderating panels at comic conventions, Chris does a terrific job at keeping things moving. He really seems to be everywhere these days, as his The Nerdist podcast has a YouTube channel and a companion show on BBC America, and his game show on Comedy Central, @ Midnight, was just given a 40-week pickup. But with all these other outlets for his talents, Chris throws his heart and soul into Talking Dead, and he comes across as very likeable and has a great chemistry with his guests.
The other main reason Talking Dead is so successful is due to the strength of The Walking Dead itself. With a lot of television shows, you watch them, and move on. Not so with Walking Dead. When an episode ends, you want to discuss it and know even more, whether it be about a shocking character death or some mystery hinted at but not yet fully revealed. One of the things that makes The Walking Dead so compelling week to week is the surprises that appear, from a long lost character suddenly showing up to a mystery plot device revealed little by little. And Talking Dead provides a great outlet to learn more about these developments. Also fascinating are the behind-the-scenes segments showcasing the incredible effects by Greg Nicotero and team.
There really isn’t any other show like The Talking Dead on TV. (There was another AMC show, Talking Bad, also hosted by Chris Hardwick, that aired briefly during Breaking Bad’s final season.) Yeah, there have been a few after shows for other reality-based programs like Jersey Shore or the various Housewives, but they aired sporadically, and certainly didn’t deal with the intensity and craftsmanship of The Walking Dead. What’s interesting is that Talking Dead’s ratings are even higher than that of AMC’s other acclaimed show, Mad Men. Truly remarkable that a show about a show can consistently beat an Emmy-winning series in numbers of viewers.
As mentioned earlier, while a lot of television has worthy shows, they don’t warrant a lot of discussion afterwards. Certainly, Breaking Bad was one to a degree. Game of Thrones is another. Defiance on SyFy also has a lot going on. In the past, how great would it have been to have a show discussing all the conspiracies and mythology behind The X-Files? Or one involving the intrigue and continuing journey to find ‘home’ in SyFy’s rebooted masterpiece, Battlestar Galactica? Luckily, for those fans of The Walking Dead in search of something more, Talking Dead definitely fills the bill.