AMC have announced they're making a spin-off to their smash-hit zombie drama The Walking Dead, which regularly pulls in mainstream ratings for the cable network. The comic-book's creator Robert Kirman will executive-produce, alongside Gale Anne Hurd and David Alpert.
Charlie Collier, AMC's President & General Manager, commented that "... building on the success of the most popular show on television for adults 18-49 is literally a no-brainer. We look forward to working with Robert, Gale and Dave again as we develop an entirely new story and cast of characters. It’s a big world and we can’t wait to give fans another unforgettable view of the zombie apocalypse."
Robert Kirkman added: "... after 10 years of writing the comic book series and being so close to the debut of our fourth, and in my opinion, best season of the TV series, I couldn't be more thrilled about getting the chance to create a new corner of The Walking Dead universe. 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."
This isn't a surprise from a financial perspective, as The Walking Dead's universe is clearly very popular and I can't imagine existing fans avoiding whatever spin-off AMC put in front of their eyes. It may also ensure the franchise is on television almost all year, if the companion series airs when The Walking Dead ends in March, through into summer. Or will they both run parallel, allowing for weekly crossovers, a la Buffy and Angel?
I don't quite understand why we need this from a creative standpoint, though. New characters are fine, but that's never really been the show's strongest suit. If there's a new location, perhaps taking place somewhere more suburban or wintry, maybe that will be interesting and give the show its own identity. But if it's just an excuse to watch a different group traipse around Georgia slaying zombies and getting into similar scrapes to the original gang, what's the point? The comic-book fans won't be able to loosely predict the future, sure, but isn't that part of the fun for them? I haven't read the comics, and not knowing what's going to happen isn't the key ingredient missing from making The Walking Dead an even bigger hit, trust me...
I'm also saddened AMC's appears to be chasing ratings by lazily cloning its biggest success, in the wake of critical hits like Mad Men and Breaking Bad ending their runs very soon. Are AMC turning their back on prestige to chase mainstream popularity? You can have both, as Breaking Bad proved in its later seasons. Oh yeah, AMC are also going ahead with a spin-off to that show, called Better Call Saul, to the lack of new ideas is suddenly very conspicuous...
The Walking Dead spin-off should arrive in 2015. The original show returns for its fourth season on 13 October in the US.