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'Walking Dead' spinoff: AMC announces the program will debut in 2015

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(Read caption) 'The Walking Dead' stars Andrew Lincoln (l.), Danai Gurira (center), and Melissa Ponzio (r.).

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Entertainment brands are no longer being built lengthwise – they’re being built widthwise. In a post-Avengers world, extending a franchise through sequels, prequels, interquels or other time-bending techniques isn’t sufficient; audiences of today want unique worlds to fully immerse themselves in – the bigger, the better.

Marvel superheroes and their universe have given rise to expansion plans for the DC SuperheroStar Wars and Harry Potter universes – even television has been following the strategy, with AMC widening their Breaking Bad franchise into the Better Call Saul spinoff series; and now more world will be added to the network’s flagship series, The Walking Dead
 

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AMC made the announcement that it will produce a Walking Dead companion series with a 2015 air date in mind; serving on the show as executive producers are Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman and show producers Glae Anne Hurd and David Alpert.

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Kirkman had the following to say about the new show (of which details are scant at the moment):

“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,” said Kirkman. “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.”

Along with the rise of the “franchise universe” model has come the inevitable cynicism that “universe building” is actually just a euphemism for “cash-grabbing.” In the case of a Breaking Bad spinoff it’s easy to see why someone might feel sour about such a focused and self-contained character drama being transformed into a franchise universe; however, Walking Dead is a different creature, entirely.

The goal of Robert Kirkman was always to create a zombpocalypse saga that is long-lasting and widespread, so really the comic series (and subsequently the show) comes with inherent potential for a much larger universe to be explored. There are infinite number of characters, storylines and perspectives that could be configured into a marketable show; the caveat being that the showrunners will have to be able to find a distinctly new thematic and character drama hook, other than survivors trying to deal with the toll of survival on a zombified earth. We’ve seen that before. Judging from Kirkman’s words, however, something new and fresh is indeed the intention.

Personally speaking, I was one of those viewers who was wholly engrossed when Lost ran its “Tailies” mini-arc in the second season. The switch in perspective and introduction of new characters – different and intriguing characters – set within a familiar world, was an overall fun experience. (In fact, I still consider it a misstep that the showrunners ultimately negated the entire “Tailies Saga” by systematically killing those characters off.)

That’s all to say: There is plenty of potential for the zombpocalypse to offer us more compelling TV drama – at least in my opinion.

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Kofi Outlaw blogs at Screen Rant.


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