AMC came out roaring in the mid-2000s with Mad Men and Breaking Bad, two of the greatest shows in recent times. In the middle of those shows’ epic runs, the network struck ratings gold with The Walking Dead, which has defied the odds and grown with each season into TV’s most popular show, cable or otherwise. Those three shows have been the network’s flagships since it emerged as a player in the prestige television business.
But in between, the network’s decisions haven’t been as solid. Rubicon was quickly canceled after one season, and The Killing miraculously stuck around for several seasons despite critical ire. Low Winter Sun had the unenviable task of airing immediately after the final season episodes of Breaking Bad, and it didn’t rise to the occasion. Halt and Catch Fire is just catching fire now in its second season, as is the British import Humans. Perhaps these two successes are paving a path for Into the Badlands, a new series set to debut this fall.
The first full-length trailer for Into the Badlands debuted at San Diego Comic-Con 2015 over the weekend, and it’s a visually dazzling but narratively murky three-minute preview. The basic story seems to involve a young man who escapes from a murderous baron and seeks revenge with the help of an able-bodied swordsman. The show takes place in a future America ruled by seven warlords with their own armies. The trailer has elements of the western genre, with sweeping vistas and gritty accents, as well as kung fu, with stylish sword-slinging.
Though this trailer is exciting, it doesn’t entirely answer the question of whether this show will help AMC extend its hot streak now that its two most critically acclaimed shows have gone on to greener pastures. It does, however, present an aesthetic and genre different from almost everything else on television right now.
The trailer touts the show as being from the producers of Django Unchained and Pulp Fiction, and it’s easy to see inspiration from the genre-bender Quentin Tarantino in this series’ strange blend. The show will be worth checking out if only to see if it can sustain that balance for six hourlong episodes; for now, though, it remains on a long list of intriguing new shows that could turn out to be far more.
Into the Badlands premieres on AMC in November 2015.