Saint John — Water cooler talk around the office has reached new heights with one Port City business. The regional director of Smart Solutions, an Ottawa-based telecommunications firm with offices across Canada, has begun scheduling regular meetings for her staff to discuss the television show The Walking Dead. The weekly horror series is set in a post-apocalyptic dystopia in which the dead have risen and devour a dwindling number of living survivors. It airs on Sunday nights on AMC.
“We started doing this last spring with [the HBO series] Game of Thrones,” said Julie Higgins, who has been with the company for 12 years. “Nobody was getting any work done Monday mornings and I wanted to come up with an innovative, proactive solution — because that’s what we’re all about here. The Game of Thrones sessions were a great boost to morale and productivity, and now with The Walking Dead back, I decided to bring those talk sessions back as well. It’s empowering for everybody to just get it out of their system so they can move on with their day and get back to integrating synergy into deliverables for our clients.”
“Typically we start with a brief presentation with Dave from HR,” Higgins elaborated. “He’s read all the comic books and so he’s really good with the recaps. He’ll highlight little details some people might not notice without giving away too many spoilers. The biggest source of anxiety for people right now is that Daryl [Dixon] isn’t a character in the comics, so no one has any idea what’s going to happen to him.”
“It’s really a labour of love,” Bailey told reporters. “I stay up after the show on Sunday and start working on my presentation with The Talking Dead on in the background for inspiration.” The Talking Dead is a talk show hosted by comedian and podcaster Chris Hardwick that airs immediately after new episodes of The Walking Dead. Hardwick and celebrity guests dissect the episode viewers have just watched, share trivia and give hints about upcoming episodes. “Sometimes there are things that even I missed, like how the hippie guy Rick and Carol met for one episode in Season 4 showed up in this season’s premier. I didn’t notice that at all the first time!” Bailey said. “It’s handy to have The Talking Dead as a secondary source, especially now that they’ve expanded it to a full hour. I can usually get the presentation finished by 2 or 3 a.m. at the latest. My wife doesn’t like it, but this is something I have to do.”
When asked whether 9 a.m. on Monday was really the best time for people to be talking about TV shows with coworkers, Higgins told reporters: “I tried scheduling it on Tuesday morning once or twice, because I have a number of people who don’t have cable and download the show to watch Monday night, but we ran into the same problems we had originally. Nothing was getting done. So I decided to stick with the Monday schedule and have Dave circulate his PowerPoint by email so people can just read it on Tuesday or whenever they want. This is great for the binge-watchers, too. I want to make sure we include everybody.”
Higgins isn’t sure whether the weekly meetings will extend to other TV series once The Walking Dead concludes its current season in 2015. “Someone asked me if we could do this with [the AMC show] Mad Men when it comes back next year, but I think that might be too much. We’d have to block off at least 2 full hours because it airs opposite Game of Thrones on Sundays. We’ll have to evaluate our priorities and make a decision in the new year.”
The board members of Smart Solutions could not be reached for comment, although a source who wishes to remain anonymous told The Manatee that they had only just discovered Breaking Bad.