Well the cliffhanger that left a good percentage of AMC’s The Walking Dead (TWD) fans suspended in six-months of Internet deliberation and suspense finally delivered the grisly truth. Silence, or at least Internet silence, is golden and welcomed after the months of relentless speculation; since the reveal, there’s been little hype and not even much tribute to the characters lost. This particular show employs every possible medium to promote the post-apocalyptic dramatic series and its spawn. Unlike the other networks who have dealt with graphic novel (aka comic book) series in the past, TWD is filming at a pace that is merely issues behind it’s graphic novel story-line. It successfully pulls fans from the graphic novel followers, engages its production crew and cast in every Comicon convention of major weight, and reminds anyone who logs into any form of Internet news that they exist. The interactive follow up show The Talking Dead engages viewers to enjoy the premise of the stories through surveys, contests, and real-time contact – and continues to engage audiences now for other AMC productions. In the week prior to the Sunday night premiere of TWD, AMC dedicated no fewer than 100 hours of air-time to TWD subject matter. A major network won’t do the same for any of their shows, they’ll simply parade their stars on affiliate broadcasts as a pump and axe the show if the ratings don’t make the cut. Just as in any business, sometimes the little guy can roll with the changes of their consumers faster than the giants of traditional scheduling and budgeting.
TWD has deviated from the TWD graphic novel several times and spun back to graphic novel’s situations more than once and both seem on a collision course to conclusion. Meanwhile, AMC produced a series of equally original and compelling shows that ran their course of interest and content, namely Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Turn (which will really must end within the historical context of the American Revolutionary War), and Halt and Catch Fire (which thankfully will have to end by the time open-systems platforms kill any creativity might have been anchored elsewhere). Better Call Saul is a prequel to Breaking Bad, and thus may have a finite in ending(?) following the collision course with the characters Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. Drama is finite when it comes to holding interest, and stretchable only when the context of the story is entirely fictitious. TWD is blessed with the infinite theme of post-apocalyptic life, hence founding its own prequel of Fear the Walking Dead to maintain a following of fans and critics and keep the franchise alive by showing the beginnings of the end.
In the time since the Walking Dead premiered and began it’s rough ride to recognition, there have been very few out of network guest appearances for the TWD cast. Perhaps its that very tight disclosure contract that the actors are obliged to honor, or the fact that they film far beyond the LA and NYC hubs for producing network shows. Now they appear on AMC’s talk show, and collectively represent the show in public appearances.
The TWD cast has shuffled from the start, either through death or separation and return, and that is what builds the believability of the crazy world. Now with the death of the group conscience Glenn and one-liner warrior Abraham, fans can tweet, post, or join AMC’s discussion board on how the reconfigured mix of survivors will face the next threat. For the fans, the discoveries of this season will show the directions for growth and continuing and probably presenting more more ominous signs of disintegration.
The secret to the TWD series success has been the escalating levels of threat presented and how the band of survivors rally against it. Won’t there be a time when they can’t find any worse situations? They are approaching the wall: that place where creativity, sustained interest, and the ability to capture new interest conspire against all the parties involved with the show’s production. Even in the not so fictitious world, you cannot stretch something to an extent where it becomes a bitter joke of its former brilliance. For TWD, could their end really come as peacefully as a shared meal at a picnic table? That won’t happen until the AMC executives see the wall too, preferably a wall being propped up by a couple of new hit shows that can absorb the following or powerfully build their own. That’s Hollywood … or in TWD’s case, Georgia.