When I found out that I would be visiting Los Angeles for the first time on Sunday, April 2, my goal for that day was immediately clear: I was going to be one of 50 fans in the audience for the live taping of the Talking Dead season finale. Achieving this was no easy feat; it took tons of preparation, patience and even a little bit of gutsiness! However, being a dedicated fan of The Walking Dead, it was all worth it to me the moment that I stepped through the gates of the lot at CBS Television City.
The first step to securing tickets was to submit a request via 1iota. Since 1iota often processes ticketing requests in the order in which they are received, I made sure to check their site frequently for any updates beginning in early March. I also followed both their Twitter account and their YouTube Channel to keep an eye out for any announcements as to when the ticket requests would go live for that date. That ended up being a good call, as the request date ended up being announced via their Twitter account a few days prior (so if you have a Twitter account and plan on trying for tickets to any shows through 1iota in the future, I would definitely recommend following them).
Once the ticket requests were live, I submitted my information and was automatically added to the waitlist. This is the standard procedure for Talking Dead; all requests are waitlisted first, and 1iota notifies you whether or not your request can be accommodated over the following days/weeks. Unfortunately, since the waitlist opened up for the April 2 taping on St. Patrick’s Day, this meant that I had a long wait ahead of me. I spent the next few weeks constantly refreshing both my e-mail and my 1iota account, hoping for any sign of change. Alas, I received nothing from them until about 3:30am Pacific Time on the morning of Friday, March 31 – and it was bad news. At that time, my request could not be accommodated. So much for that St. Patrick’s Day request turning out to be lucky!
However, I hadn’t given up hope yet, as there was a note at the bottom of the e-mail stating that some reserved ticket holders could cancel their tickets within the next 48 hours; if tickets were to become available to me, I would be notified immediately. And upon checking 1iota’s website throughout the day on Friday and Saturday, I noticed that the show was not yet listed as “sold out,” which meant that there were still tickets to be had.
Sure enough, around lunchtime on Sunday, the e-mail came: the status of my ticket request had changed from “waitlist” to “available!” I clicked on the e-mail to claim my tickets as soon as I saw it – but unfortunately, I was having problems accessing the website due to the fact that the show was set to start in just a few hours. This couldn’t be the end – could it? I felt like I was just meant to be at that show!
And this is where a certain level of gutsiness came into play. I saved my confirmation e-mail from 1iota and screenshots of the issues I was having and decided to head on over to CBS Television City anyways. After all, it was my first time visiting Los Angeles; what did I have to lose? I would speak with someone from 1iota upon my arrival and explain the situation to them; worst case scenario, they wouldn’t be able to accommodate me. I texted a friend to be my last-minute plus one, and we waited on bated breath in a line outside the studio until the 1iota team arrived.
You know how they say that “fortune favors the bold?” Well, that is exactly what happened here! Upon explaining the situation to the 1iota team, we were in (thank you for being so kind and accommodating, 1iota)! And at this point, I was truly on cloud nine – I couldn’t believe that my hard work and dedication had paid off. I was going to pre-screen The Walking Dead season 7 finale and see the live taping of Talking Dead immediately afterwards!
As we celebrated our victory, security checked our IDs to make sure we were over 18, and we were wristbanded. We then passed through a security check and handed in our phones for pick up once the show was over (after all, we were going to see the episode before the east coast; they couldn’t have spoilers getting out!). From there, we were led to an outdoor holding area, consisting of rows of benches we could sit on until everyone was checked in and ready to go.
After a while, we were led into the screening room with the other fans. The 1iota team explained how the timeframe for the show would work, and we were then treated to a pre-screening of the episode. I have to admit that watching the finale on a large projection screen surrounded by other die-hard fans of The Walking Dead was kind of an out-of-body experience. Seeing the culmination of such an emotional and powerful season with others who shared my passion for the series felt surreal…but reflecting upon the scenario, I can’t imagine having watched it for the first time in any other way. Plus, the episode was absolutely perfect (you can read my recap on it here).
After the episode ended, we were able to sit and reflect for a bit, giving us time to think of any questions for the guests who would appear on Talking Dead that evening (in this case, they were to be Norman Reedus, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Scott M. Gimple and a surprise guest who we were all but told would be Sonequa Martin-Green). After some time, the 1iota staff pre-screened our questions and selected four finalists, one of whom would be chosen to ask the question live (I submitted a question myself, though I was not selected as a finalist).
Next, we were led from the screening room up a few flights of stairs to the Talking Dead studio, and we were seated. The studio is broken up into two sections: priority seating in the front (for friends/family of the cast and crew, as well as for the lucky fans selected as finalists to ask the live question), and general seating in the back (for the remaining fans who receive tickets through 1iota). Unfortunately, the studio’s small size does not allow for stadium seating, so it is a little difficult for someone short (like myself) to see the stage directly. However, there are screens set up so that everyone in the audience can see what is happening on stage – which is definitely a reasonable solution, seeing as the tickets to the show are free!
About 20 minutes before the live show began, Chris Hardwick came out to film one of the night’s promotional segments for AMC; then, about 5-10 minutes prior, Sonequa, Norman, Jeffrey and Scott all came out to take their places on the couch. One thing that struck me about this was the fact that they all had a very “professional” vibe, so to speak; to put it plainly, Talking Dead isn’t an extremely audience interactive show. This was to be expected, as the 1iota staff had clearly communicated earlier in the evening that the whole point of Talking Dead is that cast and crew are there to promote their product for AMC. However, since I am a regular con-goer who has been to many Walking Dead panels (and am thus used to seeing the cast and crew in such outlets), I found it to be absolutely fascinating because we were basically watching them at work. It was definitely more comparable to seeing the live tapings of Conan at SDCC rather than a panel of any type.
From there, we watched the show play out live, and it was a truly fun, yet surreal experience. I was so used to seeing the show from my TV screen at home that it took me a few segments to get used to everything! However, it ended up being a blast to be able to cheer and laugh out loud with the crowd…and when Michael Cudlitz entered the stage for his surprise appearance, I can honestly say that it felt like everyone there was floored (Michael has always been one of my favorite people to see on panels too, so it was exciting for me to see him live in this capacity – especially after Abraham met his demise in the season premiere). Plus, everyone in the audience was gifted a brand-new Daryl t-shirt and action figure courtesy of AMC, which was exciting to say the least (anyone who knows me is well-aware that Daryl is my favorite character!).
Once the live show was over, we remained seated for an extra 5-10 minutes and watched everyone film the online portion of the episode. As soon as they finished, it was a wrap on the season for Talking Dead! We were escorted out of the studio slowly (I had enough time to sneak a final few peeks at everyone on stage), given our free swag on the way out and, once we had picked up our cell phones from security, we were good to go!
All in all, I had a great experience at Talking Dead, and I would definitely recommend that any die-hard fans of The Walking Dead local to (or visiting) Los Angeles try for tickets via 1iota. Granted, my experience was not your typical one; after all, actually obtaining a ticket proved to be a very difficult process for me. I doubt that anyone could replicate my exact results again; had I not received an e-mail earlier in the day before the show stating that tickets were available – and had I not documented the issues I was experiencing with 1iota’s website – I doubt that we would have even gotten in the door (to my knowledge, there is no standby line for the show). For me, it just came down to sheer perseverance and luck…and in the end, it was totally worth it!