The Walking Dead S1E6: Visiting ‘Ed Jenner’s Place’

Noah Emmerich as Dr. Edwin Jenner, The Walking Dead -- AMC
Noah Emmerich as Dr. Edwin Jenner, The Walking Dead -- AMC /

What if The Walking Dead’s Dr. Edwin Jenner were more like children’s TV show host Fred Penner? I was bold enough to address this important question.

As a kid, I occasionally watched a Canadian children’s show called “Fred Penner’s Place.”  It started off with host Fred Penner crawling through a log into a secret place in the woods.  While there he would tell stories and play songs to entertain us, and eventually a “Word Bird” flew by, dropping a daily word for people to learn (word droppings?).

Years later I watched the Walking Dead, encountering a character named Edwin Jenner — or Ed Jenner, if you will.  See where I’m going with this?  Okay, maybe not, but bear with me.

Just for fun, let’s imagine if Edwin Jenner’s place at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) were presented in such a fashion.  How would that work?  Would it work?  Perhaps.  Maybe it’s a coincidence, but Fred Penner’s show was on CBC.  That sounds a lot like the CDC, does it not?  Maybe I’m not so far off with this premise after all.

Cover, sheet music to "The Cat Came Book" by Harry S. Miller, 1893
Cover, sheet music to “The Cat Came Book” by Harry S. Miller, 1893 /

To begin with, Edwin Jenner probably wouldn’t be crawling through a log to get into the CDC, and he wouldn’t likely host a children’s show as zombie hordes took over the earth.  However, if he could somehow play songs and entertain us with stories, as well as give us a daily word courtesy of Word Bird, it would be interesting.   For those who didn’t know, Fred Penner gained some popularity with his cover of the old-time song (with some racially insensitive origins) called “The Cat Came Back,” about a cat who simply wouldn’t go away no matter what happened to it.  Maybe I’m crazy, but I can imagine Jenner singing such verses about zombies, can’t you?

A possibility:

"“Now, Sheriff Rick Grimes had troubles of his own,A bloody scary zombie just wouldn’t leave his home,He tried and he tried to give the corpse away,He gave it to a man going far, far away.But the corpse came back the very next day.Yes, the corpse came back. They thought he was gone,But the corpse came back, he just wouldn’t stay away.”"

Fred Penner, Fred Penner's Place - CBC
Fred Penner, Fred Penner’s Place – CBC /

In reconstructing this new folk song, I considered putting Rick Grimes and the group in the cat’s place, but Jenner technically didn’t want the group to go away.  He wanted them to essentially stay with him forever as the building was set to explode.  If anything, he would have sung a gentle yet warped song about how the group would not be able to leave — though I’m not sure how that would have worked lyrically.
As an interesting similarity, “The Cat Came Back” mentions a man using dynamite to get rid of the cat, whereas Jenner would have used the CDC explosion to keep everyone together, at least in a manner of speaking.

Then again, Jenner could also have written a song about “Shane,” as Shane was steadily evolving into an unwanted character by this point.  In this very episode, Shane almost raped Lori Grimes who fought off his unwanted sexual advance (Bad Shane!  Bad!).

I will alter that previous verse:

"“Now, frigid Lori Grimes had troubles of her own,A scary, jealous Shane wouldn’t leave her alone,She tried and she tried to shun the Shane away,She gave him a cold shoulder but that game he did not play….”"

Next: Season 2: What lies ahead

Moving on, I assume Word Bird’s word for Jenner would have been “opt out” — a major theme in his life, at least by the time Rick Grimes and his crew showed up at his doorstep.   For Jenner, suicide was really the most practical answer to the zombie problem, and, of course, he no longer had anyone in his life to live for.  “TS-19” is a bummer episode, in many respects, but a bit of Fred Penner magic could turn anyone’s frown upside down.  So buck up, kiddos, enjoy the melodies and stories of the Walking Dead, and know that some episodes end with a bang.