In September 2013, AMC revealed that it would develop a companion series to the wildly popular zombie apocalypse drama The Walking Dead, which would feature a new cast and may explore how the zombie plague infected different locations – possibly, other parts of the world. There is no word yet as to when the pilot of the companion series might be aired, but Walking Dead fans are already chatting about what they hope to see in the new show.
The Walking Dead premiered on US television on October 31, 2010 and is now entering its fifth season. It was originally adapted from a comic book series and the television version has remained largely true to the original comic book story line. Originally ordered by AMC as a six-episode series, the television drama has attracted stronger ratings with each season and even spawned Talking Dead, a talk show focused exclusively on the plots of each episode, the characters and recaps of important plot twists.
As for the, as yet, unnamed companion series; AMC has offered little, except to say that the new show will explore “corners of The Walking Dead universe that remain unseen in the shadows.” With spin-offs and sequels, there is always the danger of simply not living up to the original; with television shows such as The Walking Dead – which command a huge audience of loyal viewers – that danger translates into revenue and the vital importance of getting it right could hardly be overstated. AMC President Charlie Collier says “Obviously, we all take our stewardship of the original franchise incredibly seriously,” and added that the production staff “are all proceeding with extreme care in order to ensure that we are offering fans something truly compelling, engaging and distinct.”
The Website TV Live recently published what it says is a list of six proposed character outlines for the new series. Although AMC has refused to comment on the series – beyond acknowledging that the pilot has been ordered and will begin production later this year – there is speculation that the spin-off might tell the story of the early days of the zombie outbreak; something that was skipped over in season one of The Walking Dead, which took up the story when the world had already been devastated by the deadly plague that caused the dead to reanimate and hunt the living. There is also a strong rumor that this new Walking Dead drama may provide a glimpse into how the zombie catastrophe developed in other parts of the world, which was the number one interest among TWD fans, according to a poll in The Hollywood Reporter. Collier agrees: “Almost from the beginning of The Walking Dead on AMC, fans have been curious about what is going on in the zombie apocalypse in other parts of the world. In fact, beyond requests for zombie cameos, it’s the question I get asked the most,” he said.
With a new cast and new locations, a Walking Dead companion series, if executed with due deference to the original, is destined to be a hit; whether its longevity will match that of its parent, the fifth season of which begins today, is yet to be seen.
Opinion by Graham J Noble