Hit show stands out amidst spin-offs: The Walking Dead returns for fourth season

By Georgianna Pisano-Goetz, Staff Writer

The network once known for “American Movie Classics” has glided into a golden age of television programming with critically acclaimed hits like Mad Men and Breaking Bad. AMC, which has promoted these record breakers for years, is now confronted with their inevitable endings. Mad Men will wind down next year its 1950’s themed, but universal, character study as Breaking Bad is building up to its final episode for the morally intangible Walter White. With the loss of these two out of the arguably three stand-out AMC programs, the network has a lot of room to work with in its next chapter. Unfortunately, it appears that it will be relying on the same old tricks.

The only notable news from AMC regarding fresh programming has been the announcement of two spinoffs. In the height of Breaking Bad frenzy, it was announced that sleazy lawyer and ironically named Saul Goodman would star in a prequel series called Better Call Saul.

Sony Television has confirmed that it has received the licensing rights, but there’s no news yet on the involvement of Breaking Bad writers Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould. At this point, there’s not even confirmation that Bob Odenkirk will be reprising his role, although marching forward without his performance would certainly hinder AMC and Sony’s success with the show.

Luckily for AMC, the record breaking Walking Dead zombie apocalypse story apparently has plenty more to tell. There is no information on the direction the spin off series will take, except that it will not be based on the characters from the comic book as the original series is. Comics creator Robert Kirkman said, “The opportunity to make a show that isn’t tethered by the events of the comic book, and is truly a blank page, has set my creativity racing.”

The show will still take place within the same universe. This spin off will be the third hour of Walking Dead programming for the network, including The Talking Dead commentary show hosted by Nerdist Chris Hardwick. The show will come from current Walking Dead executive producers Gale Anne Hurd and Dave Alpert and comics creator Robert Kirkman. At this point in time, the spin off is aiming for a 2015 on-air date, giving the creative team plenty of time to come up with an original story.

Will these spin offs be enough to keep AMC on the map? Promotions for hits like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and The Walking Dead have taken precedence over the introduction of new material. The Killing, a revision of the Danish crime drama, was just cancelled after its second season.

There are still pilots coming onto AMC, despite their low profile. Dramas including Line of Sight, starring The Walking Dead’s David Morrissey, a 1980s computer drama Halt & Catch Fire, starring Pushing Daisies’ Lee Pace, and a period drama Turn, based on the book Washington’s Spies, from Nikita’s Craig Silverstein have been ordered from AMC.

Cop drama Low Winter Sun hasn’t faired well in its first season despite coming on after The Walking Dead, which doesn’t look good. AMC’s big bets remain the old reliable, including continuing the immensely popular but lacking The Walking Dead. Those looking for more of the same from AMC will be pleased all the way through 2015.

Junior Georgianna Pisano-Goetz is a staff writer. Her email is gpisanog@fandm.edu.

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