The walking dead has been on a downward spiral for at least two seasons, but I think you can trace the decline back to the start of the series.
AMC’s zombie drama season 1 was written and produced by veteran filmmaker Frank Darabont, who featured the series on HBO before AMC picked it up. The season had only six episodes and immediately received critical acclaim and public enthusiasm.
Darabont started working on Season 2, but almost immediately found himself in conflict with the other writers and producers of the series. In the court records revealed in the ongoing lawsuit between Darabont and AMC, we got a glimpse of Darabont’s anger at what was happening to his show in its second season.
“I’m in a state of seething rage right now,” Darabont wrote in a 2011 email to executive producer Gale Anne Hurd, referring to the issues he was having with the first episode of the second season. “Everyone, especially our directors, had better wake up and be careful or I’ll start killing people and throwing bodies out the door.” In an email from the previous year, Darabont wrote about two writers on the show that he should have “hunted them down and killed them with a brick, then left and set their homes on fire.”
AMC says these emails and Darabont’s erratic behavior and management skills are the reason for his ouster, but Darabont’s explanation seems more and more valid as the series slips into absurd writing and episodes. terrible. Darabont basically claimed he was trying to protect his show from lazy hacks, writing:
Each of these emails was sent because a “professional” showed up whose laziness, indifference or incompetence threatened to sink the production ship and added an unfair and unnecessary burden to their fellow workers. distribution and team. My tone was the result of the stress and the magnitude of this extraordinary crisis. The language and hyperbole of my emails were harsh, but so were the circumstances. As for the huge issues they describe, I maintain these emails in great detail.
And stand by their side, he should. Look no further than the spectacle The walking dead became to see exactly what he was trying to avoid. Darabont wanted fewer episodes and a larger budget per episode. AMC wanted to save money and wanted 16 episodes per season so they could enjoy more ad revenue. The two were at loggerheads and by July 2011 Darabont was released.
All of this happened amid budget cuts and other tragedies. AMC cut the budget per episode from $ 3.4 million to $ 2.75 million, with AMC pocketing the big tax break they were getting from the state of Georgia rather than investing it in the series. That $ 2.75 million budget has been where it has hovered ever since, despite a massively inflated cast and, for a while at least, massive ratings.
Darabont was asked to produce 13 episodes for season 2, each with a lower budget than he worked with in season 1. The number of episodes increased to 16 per season after that, which is why so many episodes are filler or “bottle” episodes. and why we don’t see all of the major players in every episode so often — although The Walking Dead throw away earn relatively little compared to other major TV shows.
There have been good seasons and good episodes since, but nothing like the first season of Darabont. And he hadn’t even warmed up yet.
I would certainly have loved to see Darabont’s vision of The walking dead. Maybe 10 episodes per season — similar to comparable shows like breaking Bad or many Netflix Originals — with that initial budget of $ 3.4 million. As the show grew and made more money, AMC could have even increased that budget — investing in their biggest hit rather than just siphoning off all the profits.
In any case, that’s the whole background to the recent revelation that Jeffrey DeMunn, who played Dale Horvath in Seasons 1 and 2, asked to be killed when he learned of Frank Darabont’s ouster from the series created by Darabont (based, of course, on the comics by Robert Kirkman.)
DeMunn had worked with Darabont several times before, and when he heard he was doing a zombie show and Darabont wanted him to join him, he jumped at the chance.
“I was doing a play in Texas” DeMunn told Cleveland.com, “and Frank called and said, ‘Hey, do you want to come to Atlanta and kill zombies?’ I didn’t have to think about it. It was Frank. I knew it would be quality.
“The writing at the start was just amazing, just like the original cast,” DeMunn added, making a not-so-subtle comment on how well the show’s writing is today. When DeMunn learned that Darabont had been kicked out, he decided to step down in solidarity.
“Dale’s death was my decision,” DeMunn said. “I was pissed at the way Frank was kicked off the show. I spent a week not being able to breathe fully. And then I realized, ‘Oh, I can stop. “So I called them up and said, ‘It’s a zombie show. Kill me. I don’t want to do this anymore. “It was a huge relief for me.”
So AMC killed Dale long before the character died in the comics. This role was then taken on by Bob Stokey (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) who is bitten and then partly eaten by the cannibals of Terminus.
It’s great to hear something from the cast about Darabont’s dismissal, even though it’s an actor who died years ago. On a show where you can be killed anytime and for whatever reason, you are unlikely to hear a living actor talk about this sort of thing.
DeMunn is right too. The original writing and casting was amazing (mostly minus a casting error here and there) and it’s such a shame that we have this version of The walking dead instead of Darabont. It’s life.