This AMC TV series viewership is nothing short of extraordinary. It is beyond extraordinary. The Walking Dead cast, two executive producers, director, and creator, all had appeared this past Saturday on October 11, 2014 at The Paley Center for Media at New York City before Sunday night's much anticipated fifth season premiere. All appeared before a pleasing audience of fans, hosted by MSNBC news correspondent Tamron Hall. Of course all cast members and crew kept mum about what to expect, other than executive producer and writer Scott Gimple saying during the event's concluding remarks, that people should at least not have children around during the first eight minutes of the fifth season premiere episode.
There were notable foreign fans amongst also the American audience, as fellow cast member Norman Reedus, who plays Daryl, eagerly roamed about to pass a mike to those desiring to ask a question. One woman from Poland expressed how much she and her father, who still lives in her home country, enjoy the show. Another woman from the Philippines seemed to top that, by saying that she is a fan as well as all of Asia. Then another woman said that she and her party came all the way from Singapore to make it to the event. She even joked about spotting English actor Andrew Lincoln, who plays Rick Grimes, at the airport.
Then the questions came, answered with a mixture of warm sincerity and light-hearted humor. One woman asked the cast members on the stage as Norman Reedus provided the mike, that if you could choose to be another character of The Walking Dead, who would you choose? Norman Reedus then quickly answered for himself, before his fellow cast members even had a chance by speaking to the mike saying, "Maggie! Next question."
Andrew Lincoln when asked by an audience member what was his favorite meaningful episode of the series thus far, he first answered that the episode involving losing his wife Lori, acted superbly by Sarah Wayne Callies, was meaningful. Then, he told as he remembered how fearful he was in the beginning, while driving in Georgia thinking, (and the following may not be his exact words), "Oh man, I'm English. What am I doing in Atlanta?" Followed by how much he was encouraged by Jon Bernthal, who played Shane up to season two. This made him answer eventually that it was indeed the pilot episode that was the most meaningful to him. For he remembered rallying amongst his fellow cast members by saying to everyone, "Look, let's just jump off the cliff. Let's take this and create something wonderful."
Among those on stage voicing heartfelt closing statements, was Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd who said how much they appreciated the fans. The guys looked sharp. And the ladies who were Gale Anne Hurd, Melissa McBride as Carol, Danai Gurira as Michonne, and Lauren Cohan as Maggie, all looked great. It's unfortunate I only caught half the event that was then provided on live video.
Then of course came the anticipated Sunday night fifth season premiere, followed by Talking Dead hosted by Chris Hardwick. And everyone was blown away. Talking about the episode, Chris Hardwick had guests Executive Producer and writer Scott Gimple and Director Greg Nicotero, both who also appeared at The Paley Center event the day before in New York City. As for his celebrity guest as a fan of The Walking Dead, late night comedian Conan O'Brien appeared on the show.
Everyone had fun on the Talking Dead show discussing the fifth season premier, providing also interesting insights. And of course the show would not be complete without those live polls.
One poll question asked if Conan O'Brien could survive The Walking Dead zombie apocalypse, which about 74 percent of those said no. This had prompted his quick response, "I'm six-foot-four, 185 pounds most of it lean muscle. I have an Irish rage, Of course I could survive." He also was impressed with Carol, as well as any other fan after what she did by also saying, "I was impressed that Carol knew not to go into Terminus, as if she had read the Yelp review."
Speaking of Carol, another poll asked, should Carol be the group leader? Eighty-one percent said no. The result was that most were satisfied with Rick. Chris Hardwick then asked Scott Gimple if Rick was grounded, to which the executive producer and writer replied, "I think he's very grounded. It's not out of madness but out of necessity. He has these people around him that he loves now. And they are not going to be fooled anymore." But Chris Hardwick seemed to press all the more further about the capability of Rick by asking in another way. Asking how would Shane had handled Terminus? This time Director Greg Nicotero answered saying, "Rick is doing exactly what Shane said he (Rick) couldn't do."
Perhaps the more revealing question was what inspired the trough scene. "It's institutional evil," replied Scott Gimple followed by saying, "You can't argue with institutional evil." That brought to mind in that scene when Bob, acted by Lawrence Gilliard, Jr. says, "You don't have to do this. There's another way," to Terminus cannibal leader Gareth, acted by Andrew J. West.
The next revealing question, was another live poll question. Should the cannibal people of Terminus die? A whopping 97 percent of those polled said the people of Terminus deserved to die. Conan O'Brien passionately replied to that question by adding, "Yes! They deserve to go. Enough of the moral gray areas. They gotta go! I wanted to go into the TV and help them kill those people (people of Terminus). For Chris Hardwick had also asked both Greg Nicotero and Scott Gimple why Rick wants to kill the people of Terminus after escaping, to which it was Scott Gimple who replied, "He's on a mission to repay them for everything they've done to people."
The next day Monday, HLN TV also got in on about The Walking Dead fifth season premier. And that program's host Mike Galanos had as his guests actor Justice Leak who played the knife-smock man in the trough scene, comedian Phillip Wilburn, and entertainment journalist and Senior editor Elizabeth Wagmeister for Hollywood Life. Mike Galanos asked Justice Leak, "Why do you think this show is such a hit?" To which Justice Leak replied, "I think it's because it doesn't focus on just the walkers. Everything is important. It's the relationships, life and death, everything. And Scott Gimple has this show where he wants it."
Elizabeth Wagmeister was also asked why are women watching such a show, for which she replied similar to Actor Justice Leak as she said, "We've had four women call in already who are huge fans. It's all relationships. The gore is the fun secondary part, but no way women are kept from watching this show." One of the callers was an 81 year old woman from South Carolina.
And that's it. They get it. Fans like Justice Leak, Elizabeth Wagmeister and other The Walking Dead fans, get it. For it was near exact to what I had written in a previous Huffpost blog titled, "The Walking Dead: An Emmy-worthy Drama," For in the blog I wrote about the central theme, "...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."
The Walking Dead like another TV show The Game of Thrones, are both primal shows each asking a question. The Walking Dead asks, how does one maintain ones humanity among those who haven't? Whereas The Game of Thrones asks, how does one maintain honor, among those who haven't? The goal for one show is for survival. And the goal for the other, is for power.