Season Two of "The Walking Dead" Will Be The Show's Demise
It's been a tumultuous year for "The Walking Dead". After a very successful first season and near-universal praise -- despite a certain uneveness in the plot -- the show was primed and ready for an even better second season. The episode count has been more than doubled to thirteen, Frank Darabont seemed motivated and ready to make the show even better.
But over the summer, and as filming for the show started up again, things began to fall apart.
First, the news that the show was cutting its budget by more than 20%, despite doubling the episode count. Then, news that Darabont had left the show days after everything seemed fine at Comic-Con. It quickly turned out to be a firing.
As it turns out, the reason Darabont was fired was because of the budget cuts. AMC's greed and irresponsibility didn't set well with Darabont, who held the show to an incredibly high standard. He didn't want to lose that production value, which made the show the hit that it was. All AMC wanted was more money. Executives at the network even went as far to demand that Darabont shoot half his scenes indoors, because it's cheaper, even suggesting that, at times, the zombies be heard instead of seen.
At the forefront of all of this ridiculousness is AMC exec Jack Stillerman, who, by the sounds of it, has a complete disregard for the creative process. We get that TV is a business just like anything else, but The Walking Dead set not only network ratings records in season 1, but CABLE ratings records, and has proven to be an invaluable asset to AMC with only six episodes. Allegedly, Stillerman pronounced that “Ratings have no bearing on this conversation," in meetings with Darabont. Eventually, the two parties had had enough, and Stillerman fired Darabont, opting to put Glen Mazzara at the help as the showrunner.
This doesn't necessarily mean that the show will fail. You don't need big budgets to make films word, despite the mantra of directors such as Michael Bay. Often, lower budget films and shows work just as well, thanks to good cast and crew and well-written scripts, something that "The Walking Dead" is still capable of.
But Darabont's dismissal is frightening, not only to viewers, but to the cast and crew themselves. If anyone steps up and voices the same concern Darabont did, guys like Stillerman would likely have no problem axing them as well. It's a slippery slope, and it's only a matter of time before we have another such story. Creatively, the effect of Darabont's departure probably won't be felt until later in the season -- the season premiere will be 90 minutes long, likely a Darabont decision, but the whole situation just places a negative aura around the show, and for the informed viewers, it can only turn people off of the show.
Jack Stillerman is a douche. You probably won't have trouble finding people from AMC's other shows who will attest to that. The network has had well-documented run-ins with the people behind Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and Sons of Anarchy. The network has four of cable's most successful and highly acclaimed shows, and can't seem to leave them alone.
And in this case, it's going to cause the demise of one of those shows. "The Walking Dead" may be able to survive without Frank Darabont, seeing as Glen Mazzarra is more than capable of running a show, and Robert Kirkman is still involved -- not to mention the tremendous cast and crew -- but shows like this can't survive executive meddling. The fans and viewers will have none of it.
Now comes the news that AMC will be splitting the thirteen episodes into two batches, and taking a three month break between the end of November and mid-February. Because fans are absolutely going to love that, right? Just another nail in the coffin for the zombie show.
We're not giving up on the show completely just yet, but it's been fun while it lasted.