For all its high ratings, critical praise, and general cultural cachet, The Walking Dead has had a difficult time of things behind the camera. After a highly-touted first season, original showrunner Frank Darabont (The Mist) was ousted from the show due to budgetary and creative concerns. His replacement, Glen Mazzara (The Shield), fared little better; despite a notable leap in quality between The Walking Dead‘s second and third seasons, Mazzara has been dismissed from the series because of production delays and creative disputes with Dead co-creator Robert Kirkman.

Though Mazzara won’t officially step down as The Walking Dead‘s showrunner until the end of season 3, AMC has wasted no time in selecting his replacement for season 4. Scott Gimple – a writer and producer who has been with the series since season 2 – will apparently step in as The Walking Dead‘s new showrunner.

As first noted in The Hollywood Reporter, Scott Gimple will take over showrunner duties for The Walking Dead when it returns for season 4. Gimple joined the crew for The Walking Dead during season 2, writing three episodes and overseeing the production of thirteen since.

Taking creative command of the ultra-popular AMC horror-drama after two showrunners have been canned under somewhat controversial circumstances, Gimple inherits a serious responsibility. The Walking Dead is currently AMC’s gore-spattered crown jewel, bringing in audiences previously unheard of on basic cable. With viewers largely in agreement that the show’s third season is a step up from its more sedate predecessor, Gimple will be under pressure to maintain that momentum in season 4.

Evidence as to whether Gimple can pull off the continuation of The Walking Dead‘s current quality is contradictory. He wrote some of the better episodes for the show’s second season, including Shane and Otis’s ill-fated high school expedition in “Save the Last One” (Episode 3) and the first real Rick vs. Shane dust-up in “18 Miles Out” (Episode 10, which was co-written with Mazzara). He also oversaw the beginning of Rick’s descent into madness in season 3’s “Hounded” (Episode 6).

Though these aforementioned episode scripts were all fairly strong, it should be noted Gimple wrote the screenplay for the disappointing Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance – though one could argue that the movie’s simultaneously boring and lunatic plot was due to the other three writers who tinkered with the script before its production. Gimple also turned in more than a few episodes for the short-lived ABC series, FlashForward.

All this said, Scott Gimple’s previous output on The Walking Dead still stands out as fairly solid. Even if he’s put out a few clunker scripts in the past, he’s so far demonstrated a strong feel for the world of The Walking Dead and the dramatic possibilities therein. One can only hope that his tenure as the series’ showrunner will not be undermined by external drama like his two predecessors.

The Walking Dead shambles back onto AMC on February 10, 2013 for the second half of season 3 (and the end of Mazzara’s term as showrunner).

Source: The Hollywood Reporter