On AMC's zombie drama The Walking Dead, each of survivors fulfills a certain familiar archetype. For example, there's Rick (the fearless leader), Dale (the meddling codger), and Glenn (the hero-in-the making). There is also Theodore "T-Dog" Douglas, a character exactly like Hurley from Lost if nobody knew who Hurley was.
What makes T-Dog such an accidentally scintillating character is how little we know about him. The Walking Dead has a cast of maybe a dozen, but a first-year drama student could memorize all of T-Dog's Season Two dialogue in 10 minutes.
It is as if the writers refused to develop any aspect of his character out of some unknown religious principle. In the history of televisual survival dramas, even the basketball-playing robots from The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island had more personality.
Yes, for most of The Walking Dead's second season, T-Dog's main role was to wander into the shot every 27 minutes and frown, a telamon-like reminder that the post-apocalypse isn't sunbeams and toffee. He accomplished these guest moseyings with Waldo-like consistency, but just what exactly was T-Dog doing off-camera during those thirteen episodes?
Thanks to some unexplainable television magic, we have acquired this fictional character's personal diary. And judging from his memoirs, The Walking Dead's living enigma had excellent reason to make himself sparse.
The End of The World, Day 68
Yesterday our caravan stumbled into a walker herd. That little girl ran into the woods, and everyone else followed her. I cut myself nastily the day before and was feeling woozy — better not have tetanus — so I stayed behind with Dale. You know, that guy who never takes his hat off.
I don't think I've ever mentioned this here, but because of Dale, everyone calls me "T-Dog." It's humiliating. I bet they forgot my real name already. Seriously, when I die these morons will scrawl "HERE LIES T-DOG" on a piece of plywood. Anybody who discovers my grave will mistake it for an illiterate's pet cemetery.
I have Dale to thank for my anonymous death. I met him a few weeks after the world turned to shit. I remember using my go-to epigram: "Theodore Douglas, pity we couldn't meet under more pleasant circumstances." Dale must've heard Chuck D's name once on Air America, so he immediately begins clucking like Colonel Sanders:
Now, now, no time for formalities. My memory's not a vise! I bet friends call you (45-second size-up) Ted-Dog. Or maybe Doug E. Doug. Of course, that all depends on your middle name. What's your middle name? No, got it, you've got the glimmer of a T-Dog, like that MC Snoopy.
But I digress. I'm stuck on the highway with man who has guaranteed I will die unknown and undignified. So before he can ask me whether I've heard Grandmaster Flash's "The Message," I pretend I'm acting crazy. Y'know, acting paranoid; making vague, unhinged statements about ditching everyone and going to the beach.
And you know what? It works! Grandpa Time shuts the fuck up for a few hours. Did you know he cornered me in the CDC with a 40-minute lecture about his favorite kind of swiss chard? Should've thought of that sooner.
I'm going to try this "coast trick" if I'm ever stuck in a car ride with Lori. She's reverted to calling me "T-Dizzle."
The End of The World, Day 70
My blood poisoning's subsided. That's good, as Dale's finally left my bedside. He spent an hour there, silently pursing his lips and bulging his eyes like he was massively constipated. I pretended to be asleep.
Also, Rick's son has finally recovered from that gunshot wound. How do I know? I discovered him perched by my pillow for an hour. That kid is chronically unsupervised and borderline indestructible. Pretended to be asleep again, mostly because that little golem scares me.
The End Of The World, Day 82
I was the victim of an egregiously unfortunate happenstance in which I articulated my displeasure using a syllabic combination and tenor that hopefully conveyed my consternation to any spectators in the vicinity. Forsooth!
Today Rick decided to take everyone shooting. He wasn't sweating a lot, so I knew there were no walkers around. That guy's my personal zombie barometer. The more he perspires, the more danger I'm in. Glad that guy doesn't wear deodorant. This also explains why I hang out with Shane.
When we went shooting — I commanded Jimmy, Hershel's son or cousin or nephew or whatever — to not "give me any of that gangster shit!" Totally was messing with the little hayseed, but I felt compelled to apologize to the kid later. If I adopt a surly attitude, Sheriff Don Quixote will think twice about recruiting me for any of his hero quests. It's working so far!
Jimmy, Patricia, and I spent the rest of the day having a nice, understated time around the farm, not unlike those participants on The Real World who are too well-adjusted to be on-camera. We're really shaping up to be quite the trio. Jimmy calls us "The Three Amigos," which is dumb as hell. But hey, with 99% of civilization dead, I can afford to be sentimental. This friendship's got legs.
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