As the celebrated first season of AMC's series The Walking Dead comes to an end this Sunday, so do the jobs of the entire writing staff.
Creditable rumors are beginning to spread throughout television’s milieu that Frank Darabont has fired the entire writing staff of television’s popular zombie-apocalyptic drama, which includes executive producer Charles Eglee.
On top of that, it is believed that Darabont’s intentions are not to replace the writing staff for the already announced second season, but to assign scripts to freelance writers instead. While this may sound like a shocking decision to fans of the series, this is not something new in the world of television.
On BBC's Torchwood and the continuing Torchwood on Starz, they have been and will continue to forgo the typical staff writers and use freelance writers instead. In addition, the writing staff of any series will often see a fair amount of writer turnover between seasons. While that rarely leads to an entire staff replacement, Darabont appears to have extremely justifiable reasons to do so.
Out of the six episodes that will make up the first season of The Walking Dead, Darabont ended up writing two himself, while also co-writing/rewriting the remaining four. In comparison, the writing staff was only responsible for two episodes this season - but still with Darabont in the lead chair. The remaining two episodes were written by non-staff writers. One was by The Walking Dead comic creator Robert Kirkman and the other by former The Shield writer Glen Mazzara.
Such a dramatic move lends itself to the notion that Darabont, while already having a hands-on approach with the series, is going to continue to be heavily-involved throughout the second season. And with Darabont writing entire episodes himself and co-writing/re-writing the remaining episodes, it appears that a full-time writing staff has become an unnecessary expense for a cable series that already has high production costs.
Of course, any major changes to a popular television series will have fans questioning how it will impact any future season. With the source material already written, the resulting plot-outlines have been somewhat laid for whomever will take on writing the episode. Unfortunately for Darabont, but fortunately for the fans, the second season of The Walking Dead will be comprised of 13 episodes, instead of the first season’s 6. So, while Darabont has played a major part in each episode so far, it will make production on the season season much harder overall.
Although, with almost an entire year before The Walking Dead season 2 is expected to premiere in October 2011, they most certainly have the time needed to pull it off.
While no final decision has been made yet on whether The Walking Dead will continue without a writing staff, go completely freelance or a mixture of the two, AMC and Darabont are keeping their options open.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays @10pm, on AMC