HAIRCUT 100: Day 72, No. 72. Sticking with Z Nation for one more day, the wonderful Russell Hodgkinson as Doc. Steven ‘Doc’ Beck is the archetypal old hippy, with a suggestion that he goes back far enough to have been at Woodstock and in Vietnam. I have several friends just like him, and this was the kind of look I was anticipating for my own middle age. What can I say? I feel cheated. Although not a medical practitioner, Doc’s extensive knowledge of pharmaceuticals, his personal supply, and love of ER prove indispensable to the ‘Operation Bitemark’ crew as they negotiate the zombie apocalypse. His colourful past and essentially upbeat nature allows him to relate to the presumptive saviour of mankind and seedy zombie hybrid Murphy in a way that the other group members cannot, with both being partial to a bit of the old ‘Z Weed.’ He’s also something of a father figure, particularly towards the warrior urchin, ‘10K,’ fulfilling a similar, if subversive role to Dale in The Walking Dead as the soul or conscience of the group. As the character has developed, he has become more of a fighter, while we’ve learned more about his past as a recovering addict and counsellor who was once in the Navy. As a dramatic archetype, he’s somewhere between the wise old man and the comic relief, and his taste in shades is impeccable.
Looking at Hodgkinson’s biography, it is tempting to think that he is largely being himself on screen, in which case he is clearly a lovely man. His social media presence certainly suggests a big heart and a broad sense of humour. Born in 1959, he was an air force kid who was acting by the 7th grade. He served in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division from 1977 to 1983 and in the U.S. Coast Guard from 1986 to 1991, continuing to act at the Fort Bragg Playhouse and studying at the Honolulu Film Actor’s Workshop. Pre-Z Nation, Hodgkinson’s career is eclectic and independent, and I’m going to assume he got the Z Nation gig after his leading role in Kevin Hamedani’s imaginative and quirky low budget movie Zombies of Mass Destruction (2009). Personally, if facing the Great Tribulation, this is the guy I’d want to be with hanging with. ‘Don’t hug the zombies. Got it!’