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Darryl Woodard Headshot

The Walking Dead: An Emmy-worthy Drama

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I discovered zombie entertainment late. Back in mid-December 2010 one day I stopped to watch a scene from The Walking Dead while I channel surfed. It involved the lead character Rick Grimes acted by British Actor Andrew Lincoln, who sought safety inside an Army tank in the middle of an Atlanta street filled with zombies (called walkers in the series). He radios for help and is saved by Glenn, acted by Korean-born American Actor Steven Yeun. From there on I was hooked. To which, I finally saw the film Night of the Living Dead in January the next year.

Winner of two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Prosthetic Make Up For A Series, Miniseries, Movie Or A Special for both 2011 and 2012 which is laudable, but it's a shame the show has yet to have won any awards for both acting and writing. This is questionable, for a cable TV show that still maintains as the highest rated series in cable history. David Konow also agrees, which he writes at online TG Daily on July 23, 2013, "The Walking Dead Gets No Emmy Respect."

Last year December 1, 2013, the Midseason Four finale episode was indeed powerful. Directed by Ernest Dickerson who is also a cinematographer and known for having worked with Director Spike Lee, and Darrell Pritchett, the special effects supervisor who provided the explosive effects to equally explosive acting. Following the episode with commentary on Talking Dead hosted by Chris Hardwick, they also showed the cast's stunt doubles. Fourteen-year-old Chandler Riggs as the son of lead character Rick known as the preteen Carl -- his stunt double is actually a 31-year-old woman named Ashley. And of course, Actor Scott Wilson as Hershel was among the guests.

Anyone who is a devoted fan of The Walking Dead will likely have a favorite. Of the fans I've met, the top two favorites are easily Daryl Dixon acted by Norman Reedus, and Michonne acted by Danai Gurira. I can see why because both are fantastic. But my favorite is still Rick.

It all began in a scene from Season One. The racist Merle Dixon, older brother of Daryl, acted by Michael Rooker, is belligerent towards the other small group of survivors all atop an Atlanta department store. All are safe for a moment from the zombie hoard populating the streets below. Merle then attacks the African-American character T-Dog, acted by IronE Singleton, with a gun and mouthing a racial epithet. Soon after, he is surprisingly hit on the head with the butt of a rifle by Rick. Following that, Rick handcuffs Merle to a pipe (Rick was a sherriff's deputy before the zombie apocalypse), and delivers a short speech to Merle, "Things are different now. There are no n----rs any more. No dumb-ass-sh-- white tr--h fools either; there's only white meat and dark meat. It's us and the dead. We survive this by pulling together, not apart." Doing what he did, and after saying all that, from then on, Rick has forever cemented his place as my favorite.

Now whenever I bring up Rick among devoted fans, usually they admit that they do like him. For they see Rick as a guy who is hard not to like. But it stops there before they will eventually come around to saying, "Oh he went and gone crazy," or, "I think he's about to lose it." To which I would say, "So what."

Of course those fans are referring to Rick's previous mental state shortly after he learns of the tragic circumstances involving his departed wife Lori, acted by Sarah Wayne Callies. Yet these fans forget that not only is it the manner of her death after Lori delivers a healthy baby girl, but also that weight of leadership responsibility that Rick is used to shouldering for the group. And because of both, I'm inclined to be more sympathetic to Rick for his short season of not having it all together so to speak. The way I saw it, he needed a breather from that weight of leadership. Then thankfully for Rick, near beginning Season Four we learned that Hershel and the others had wisely formed the council. That was, to ease the burden of leadership from Rick's shoulders.

In the Midseason Four finale, there was that heavy matter on Rick's mind about Tyreese, acted by Chad Coleman. For Tyreese had fallen in love with Karen, acted by Melissa Ponzio, a former resident of Woodbury before she joined Rick's group at the prison enclave. In a previous episode, Karen became ill from a deadly flu-like virus that plagued about half those at the prison enclave. And Carol from Season One, acted by Melissa McBride, took it upon herself to secretly kill both Karen and David, another former Woodbury resident also taken ill, in an effort to halt the plague. Tyreese afterwards finds them both dead and burned, which sets him off. Rick later finds out it was Carol, and banishes her after giving her a car, weaponry, and provisions while both were on a supply run. He hadn't told Tyreese upon arrival at the prison enclave, but he tells Maggie, acted by American-born-actress-with-British-accent Lauren Cohan, Hershel, and at last Daryl, his trusted lieutenant. Then, plus, he knew Carol had grown to taking a liking to Daryl.

In the Midseason Four finale when Rick finally tells Daryl, he afterwards wants to bring closure to it all as if to say look we gotta tell Tyreese, we gotta tell Tyreese. For both knew well there is no ands, ifs, or buts with Tyreese. For Tyreese is passionate, who physically fought both men after finding Karen and David dead from what he mistakenly thought was stonewalling. Yet both were only trying to console him. So as both were finally about to tell Tyreese, the Governor, acted by British Actor David Morrissey, shows up with an attack force and with Hershel and Michonne as hostages. Give us the prison, or you all will die. And Hershel, the healer who successfully stopped the flu-like plague, as well as being the moral voice, is the first who falls.

Now, The Walking Dead is back to finish up Season Four. Since February 9, 2014 beginning from Midseason Four on as usual after any cataclysmic event, in this case after the prison assault, everybody is separated again. But they are slowly regrouping. Which now is more interesting since Carol is back. Only she still has to watch out now that she suddenly found Tyreese. This while, as he was discovering his inner daddy-day-care by taking care of three girls, Rick's baby daughter Judith, and the two girls whom Carol had both taught school while all were at the prison enclave. Yes Tyreese still does not know it was Carol who killed Karen. So we'll all just have to wait and see how that storyline develops. And in that same episode near the end, we see Michonne burst into tears of joy when she finds Rick and Carl alive. Then last Sunday, Glenn is determined to find his beloved Maggie with the help of Tara, acted by Alanna Masterson, despite both having encountered a trio of survivors whose goal is to save the world so they say.

The central theme or story of The Walking Dead the way I see it, is not about the gore or survival, but about cherishing humanity. We cherish that which is elemental if it is on the verge of being lost. And that's really all there is. That simple. Therefore I must praise Robert Kirkman, for his creativity and courage for which the TV series was based from his graphic novel. Because we all should know, it takes courage to create something. You risk.

Finally, I close with both a plea and an admonishment to the decision makers of the Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. Please give The Walking Dead a considerate second look. Mad Men currently is a winner of 15 Emmy Awards, with three for writing. Breaking Bad is a winner of 10 Emmy Awards with six for acting. Both are praiseworthy, but The Walking Dead is equal parts high-caliber acting and high-caliber writing. It's still February of 2014, and this year's Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony to be held on Monday, August 25, instead of traditionally on Sunday, is still several months out. So there's plenty of time for reconsideration. Again, I write please.