A zombie-themed palate cleanser in honor of the left, which is busy eating its own this afternoon. You know, just the other day I was thinking, “How am I going to bore myself on Sunday nights once TWD’s season is over?” Soon I might not have to ask: There may be “Walking Dead” derivatives airing on AMC all year round. Given the ratings, who could blame them? May a thousand grumble threads bloom, my friends.
Seriously, though, this is good news. Seriously!
Months after AMC announced its intention to create a companion show to The Walking Dead, the network has confirmed that the series is officially happening, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The network brought on writer-producer Dave Erickson (Sons of Anarchy, Low Winter Sun) as showrunner, executive producer and co-writer, according to Uproxx. He joins a team for the show that includes Dead creator Robert Kirkman and producer Gale Anne Hurd.
The still-untitled series was previously rumored to be a prequel that would focus on the events that led up to the main series’ apocalyptic storyline. But neither the network nor the producers have hinted at what the show will be about other than the fact that it won’t technically be a “spinoff” since it won’t feature characters from The Walking Dead TV series. Uproxx theorizes that the new series will be set in the same apocalypse timeline. Last year, creator Robert Kirkman confirmed that the show will feature an entirely new cast and location, but offered little else.
Is it a spin-off or is it a reboot? If the big change in the new show is primarily about location, i.e. the urban side of the zombie apocalypse, then it’s basically a reboot. Which is fine: The problem all along with TWD has been that the characters aren’t interesting and the story moves too slowly. The basic premise is golden; what you need are new writers and a new cast to do a better job of exploring it. If, on the other hand, the new show is a prequel about the zombie outbreak a la “World War Z,” that’s fine too — the moral agonies of quarantine are rich fuel for drama. I wonder, though, how long they can sustain that, especially since we know upfront that the outbreak does not, in fact, end up being contained. How many seasons of “it’s spreading further west!” can you do before that either gets stale or evolves into the same sort of post-apocalypse survivalist travelogue as TWD?
My two cents: They should forget about having a recurring cast or, if they insist on having one, they should use it sparingly. They should definitely forget about having a recurring set insofar as the show’s budget permits that. One of the frustrations of the zombie genre is that the outbreak is always of global scope but, with rare exceptions (like “World War Z”), the story sticks to just one tiny corner of it. If you jettison the recurring cast — or focus on them only sporadically, a la the “mythology” storyline on “The X Files” — you can paint on many more parts of that canvas. Why not do a satire of the media by devoting one episode to how cable news would have handled the first outbreak of zombie-ism? Do an episode from a war room as political leaders try to game out how other nations would respond militarily to zombie chaos. Have one set in a hospital as doctors try to cope with the injured while holding zombies at bay. You could even invite accomplished directors to contribute an episode, just to see how different sensibilities approach a problem like this. One of the reasons I grumble about the show (more than I should, in fairness) is because it’s always in the back of my mind when I’m watching that there are many more interesting things going on in the fictional world of TWD than 45 minutes of Rick moping about Lori. This isn’t “Lost”; the writers aren’t stuck on an island. Why grant yourself a set as big as the whole world if all you want to do is screw around in a corner of Georgia? The new show solves that problem. A little.