Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Governator

Big news this weekend for Walking Dead fans-- the infamous Governor is coming to the show (in Season 3) and has finally been cast! And the winner is: British actor David Morrissey. No, not the mopey singer, the guy in the photo above.

It's an odd bit of casting if I do say so myself. In the comic book (SPOILERS!) the Governor is the sadistic ruler of a large compound, who routinely resorts to torture to get what he wants. He bears more than a passing resemblance to actor and former makeup wizard Tom Savini- about as far away as you can get from David Morrissey and his leading man looks.

Supposedly Tom Savini has been campaigning for the part of the Governor since the TV series began, saying the character was obviously modeled on him and the producers need look no further to cast the role.

Personally I don't care who gets the part, as long as it's not Savini. The role of the Governor requires a charismatic actor who can go from charming one minute to cruel the next. In my opinion, Savini just doesn't have the acting chops. Looking like the character ain't enough.

Actor John Hawkes was also rumored for the role. I'm not familiar with Mr. Hawkes' work, but I could see him in the part. He's got that lean meth-head look (well, he does!) that would suit the Governor very well.

For fans of Doctor Who, David Morrissey needs no introduction. He played Jackson Lake, the man who thought he was a future version of the Doctor in the 2008 Xmas Special The Next Doctor. He's a great actor and has the charisma and screen presence the role demands. Whether he can pull off a convincing American accent though remains to be seen. Andrew Lincoln, who plays Rick on the series, is also British and you'd never know it from listening to him on the show, so I suppose there's nothing to worry about in that regard. I'm sure he'll do fine.

To be perfectly honest though, I'm not all that excited by this news. I was never a fan of the Governor story arc in the comic, and am not looking forward to it showing up in the series. For one thing, it was incredibly dark and disturbing. Parts of it were actually difficult for me to read, as it openly flirted with torture porn. Aw, heck, who am I kidding? It didn't flirt with it, it drove it up to Lookout Point, threw it in the back seat and knocked it up. There's no way the TV series will be able to properly duplicate this storyline, even on AMC. It'll have to be significantly watered down, which, even though I didn't care for it, defeats the purpose of including it in the first place.

Another reason I'm not a fan of the Governor storyline is because it was so over the top. Up to that point everything that happened in the comic seemed real and plausible, or as much so as a story about a zombie apocalypse can be. Rick and the other characters were relatable and seemed like real people. Their problems were realistic as well, as they worried about food, shelter and basic survival.

Then along comes the Governor, an over the top character who rules his world with an iron fist, killing and torturing at will. He even forces his enemies to fight in an arena, gladiator style. With the advent of the Governor the series went from realistic to cinematic. It was like Darth Vader or Voldemort* wandered into the comic. Suddenly there were villains and torture and it became an action movie as the main characters tried to escape the evil clutches of the Governor. That was a big mistake, in my opinion. It took me right out of the story, which wasn't a good thing. I'm afraid the same thing will happen to the TV series. Ah well. The producers didn't consult me and ask me what I thought.

By the way, back in Season 1 of the Walking Dead, I predicted that Merle Dixon, everyone's favorite racist meth head, would end up becoming the TV version of the Governor. Looks like I got that prediction wrong.

* Jesus Christ, are you kidding me? Spell check doesn't flag "Voldemort?"

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