You've got to hand it to AMC's The Walking Dead, despite all the creative shake-ups and behind-the-scenes reorganizations the show continues to roll along, shattering cable television ratings records in the process.
While the series is currently pushing through the final five episodes of season 3 – with the finale, 'Welcome to the Tombs,' airing on March 31 – the network recently announced that the cast and crew would once again gather in Atlanta, Georgia, as filming on season 4 is scheduled to commence on May 6.
In addition to the production announcement, AMC also officially stated that The Walking Dead writer Scott M. Gimple would be taking the reins as showrunner from the departing Glen Mazzara. But according to the network, Gimple isn't the only one on the Walking Dead staff getting a promotion; co-executive producer and special effects makeup guru Greg Nicotero and producer Tom Luse have also been officially bumped up to executive producer status on the show.
How the shifting of personnel will affect the season 4 storyline (and beyond) is anyone's guess, but as for the principles involved, i.e., Robert Kirkman and Joel Stillerman, AMC's executive vice president of original programming, a sense of optimism abounds.
In regard to season 4 and Mazzara's replacement, Kirkman had this to say:
“Scott has been an essential part of this show since he came aboard at the very beginning of season two. He's contributed to guiding this show in a substantial way that has resulted in a lot of the key scenes and storylines fans have dubbed signature moments of ‘The Walking Dead.' I am thrilled to begin work on a brand new season of ‘The Walking Dead’ with Scott at the helm, and I truly believe we could be embarking on what will be the best season of this show yet.”
Stillerman continued to praise Gimple's writing efforts on the show and goes on to commend the contributions of Nicotero and Luse that have helped keep the show running and no doubt aided considerably in its incredible success.
"Scott's voice has been an integral one since he joined the show. Greg Nicotero is a true artist whose work is simply brilliant. And, Tom Luse has really created the machine that allows this very large show to get made week-to-week. We congratulate all three in their new roles on the series and look forward to ramping up production on season four."
With season 3 still running, neither Kirkman nor Stillerman had much to say regarding the direction Gimple was planning on taking the series. But if reports concerning one key aspect of Mazzara's firing are to be believed, whatever Gimple has planned will likely be a storyline that Kirkman has already given some serious input on. For his part in the season 4 announcement, Gimple simply offered a few words on his new role and his devotion to The Walking Dead, rather than speak specifically about where Rick and Co. were headed in the next 16 episodes.
“I'm thrilled to continue the tradition of the spectacular, cinematic, horrifying, exciting and emotional storytelling of ‘The Walking Dead.' I'm a huge fan of the comics, and started with the show on the other side of the set, as an avid viewer. Over the past two years, it's been an incredible privilege making such great television with the best cast and crew I've ever worked with – I can't wait to make some more.”
Gimple is credited with writing several episodes of the series, including 'Hounded' and the penultimate episode of season 3, 'This Sorrowful Life.' Gimple also penned the season 2 episode 'Pretty Much Dead Already' – which, oddly enough, would mark the end of Frank Darabont's time on the series, and the beginning of Mazzara's brief stint as showrunner.
At any rate, let the Gimple era of The Walking Dead officially begin.
The Walking Dead season 4 will premiere in October 2013.