Not really much of a literal "harangue" this week, if you must know the truth--more of a cautiously optimistic nod of approval, as the anxiously anticipated AMC series adaptation of Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead comic book series becomes more and more of a reality.
Yesterday, rumors of Brandon Routh being cast in the show were debunked by the actor himself. I'll admit, I couldn't quite figure out who he was going to be playing anyway, especially since two of the prime roles had already been cast.
Speaking of those two roles, it's very interesting to see that AMC is going with relative unknowns for the most part in this, its first wholly owned TV property. The basic cable channel has been on fire lately with shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men (my personal fave on TV right now), inheriting the throne of TV excellence once firmly inhabited by HBO. And those are both shows which have benefited greatly from having some fresh faces in key parts, so it's understandable that AMC would continue the trend.
As is our wont, we geeky internet types had a ball speculating as to which recognizable actor could take on this or that role. I know I recently conducted a poll which asked who should play lead character Rick Grimes, with choices like Lost's Josh Holloway, Supernatural's Jared Padalecki and Parenthood's Peter Krause (my choice at the time.) In the end, AMC went with British actor Andrew Lincoln (pictured), perhaps best "known" for his supporting part in the 2003 ensemble pic Love Actually. Playing his cop buddy Shane will be Jon Bernthal, an even less known commodity whom I mainly recall from his part as Al Capone in the sequel to A Night at the Museum (hey, I have kids, it comes with the job.)
In the end, I have to give kudos to AMC for resisting the allure of "name-brand" actors, although I'm sure the lower price-tags may have been a crucial factor in the decision, as well. Much like Mad Men, this is the kind of a show that will benefit greatly from a cast of relatively unrecognized talent (although it should be said that Lincoln is fairly known in the UK for his television work.) This shouldn't be something like a CSI or Law and Order spin-off, packed with familiar faces and big-time movie stars slummin' on TV. One of the selling points of The Walking Dead is its dedication to presenting a "believable" zombie apocalypse, as much of an oxymoron as that may be, and the presence of famous celebs would no doubt be a bit distracting.
Kirkman himself seems to be excited, although if I were in his shoes I'd be excited if they had cast Jerry Stiller and Fyvush Finkel in the leads. Nevertheless, I think The Walking Dead has lots of potential to be something very special, and as location scouting kicks off and shooting is almost ready to begin, I gleefully await the realization on screen of one of the strongest comic book series I've read this decade.
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