Simply put, The Walking Dead is a television behemoth - an all-devouring monster of a cable drama that dominates any show that dares to stand in its way. With a series record of 12.4 million viewers for the season 3 finale, it's difficult to argue that The Walking Dead is the king of Sunday nights.
But if history has shown us anything, it's that being king is no simple task, and the writers and cast members must now attempt to top what they did in the previous season, or else run the risk of falling into obscurity as one of those big shows that fell off the radar.
In this new season 4 featurette, the cast and crew share their insights on what we can expect from the upcoming season. According to talented leading man Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes), the writing in season 4 will be much darker and more exciting. Lincoln goes on to say that he'll have to learn what it means to be a father as the survivors must deal with new threats from beyond the prison gates.
Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd (Aliens, Terminator) promises that fans can look forward to seeing more zombies than ever. Rick's son Carl (Chandler Riggs) also chimes in, saying that we'll get to see his character be more of a kid. The Walking Dead appears to be gearing up for its biggest season yet, but will new showrunner Scott Gimple be up to the task of managing television's most highly rated drama?
Gimple has a difficult task ahead of him, with The Walking Dead entering its fourth season. The former showrunners (Frank Darabont, Glen Mazzara) were let-go by AMC. Both men were talented writers with great careers, but it seems like differences of opinion concerning budget always got in the way. How can Gimple succeed where others have failed?
Like independent films, a great story can be told on a small scale. Every show on television can't expect to have the same budget as Game of Thrones, which costs nearly $7 million per episode. Gimple must learn to work within the constraints of a smaller budget, or he too may find himself doomed to the same fate as his predecessors.
As fans of Robert Kirkman's popular comic book series, now published by Image Comics, The Walking Dead has the potential to be a great drama - yet inconsistent writing and uneven storytelling keep it from becoming "great." It's probably unfair to compare the books to the show, due to the fact that the long-running series has just celebrated its tenth anniversary and has had a significant amount of time to develop character.
However, AMC can learn from Kirkman's success by understanding the significance of a single voice. Having three showrunners in four seasons is not a model for stability or success. Shows like Mad Men (Matthew Weiner) and Breaking Bad (Vince Gilligan) are ones that have one voice guiding their journeys, and it shows when one looks at how consistently excellent the storytelling has been.
But if the entirety of the season lives of to the promise of the Walking Dead season 4 trailer, then Gimple may pull the ratings and acclaim necessary to keep him in the driver's seat. We'll soon see.
The Walking Dead season 4 premieres Oct. 13 @9pm on AMC
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Sources: The Hollywood Reporter