AMC Prepping 'Walking Dead' Spinoff Series: Could the Zombie Apocalypse Go Global?

Fall TV

Was the zombie apocalypse national? International? We may find out soon, as AMC has announced a companion spinoff series for its hit drama "The Walking Dead."

"Dead" comics and TV series creator Robert Kirkman, along with TV series producers Gale Anne Hurd and David Alpert, will act as executive producers of the still-untitled drama, which is scheduled to premiere in 2015.

"After 10 years of writing the comic book series and being so close to the debut of our fourth and, in my opinion, best season of the TV series, I couldn't be more thrilled about getting the chance to create a new corner of 'The Walking Dead' universe," Kirkman said. "The opportunity to make a show that isn't tethered by the events of the comic book, and is truly a blank page, has set my creativity racing."

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Such a statement suggests that none of the existing TV series characters will help launch the new series. For those of you hoping Daryl and Carol will finally get their freak on and run off to start their own little civilization — that's probably not going to happen. Well, not in the spinoff, anyway.

As Kirkman points out, a new series will give writers the freedom to develop characters, locations, and storylines without concern that viewers will guess or have expectations for certain plot lines based on what has already happened in the "Walking Dead" graphic novel series. The AMC drama has veered from the comics in numerous major ways, including with the death (or not) of major characters, but creating an entirely new zombie apocalypse universe frees up Kirkman and company to truly surprise all "Dead" fans.

The first few seasons of "The Walking Dead" have focused on the survivors' efforts to survive both their new, decimated surroundings and the zombies that are constantly trying to snack on them. Kirkman and new showrunner Scott Gimple have said the fourth season will start to delve deeper into big picture issues beyond survival, such as how to begin a new society, what the new society will look like, and how it will operate.

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Perhaps the spinoff series, then, could delve even deeper into those issues? The new series could be set in a different time frame, several years down the road (in a post-post-apocalyptic world?); or maybe it'll be a prequel, with specifics on how the zombified world came to be. Maybe, a la "World War Z," it will tell the survival stories of various groups of people, from various parts of the country/world?

"Building on the success of the most popular show on television for adults 18-49 is literally a no-brainer," AMC president Charlie Collier said. "We look forward to working with Robert, Gale, and Dave again as we develop an entirely new story and cast of characters. It's a big world, and we can't wait to give fans another unforgettable view of the zombie apocalypse."

Plans for the new series come at a time when the network is facing some major losses. "Breaking Bad," which has been the story of the summer/early fall TV season this year, wraps up its five-season run on Sept. 29. The network's other signature series, "Mad Men," will end after its upcoming seventh season, set to premiere in 2014.

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The network — which just canceled "The Killing" for a second time and hasn't drawn a big number of viewers for its freshman cop drama "Low Winter Sun" — has the following productions in the pipeline:

  • "Better Call Saul," the just-announced "Breaking Bad" prequel that will revolve around Bob Odenkirk's attorney character, Saul Goodman.
  • "Thief of Thieves," an adaptation of another Robert Kirkman comic book series, about former thief Conrad Paulson, who spends his retirement time stealing from other thieves.
  • "Line of Sight," starring "Walking Dead" baddie David "The Governor" Morrissey, in a drama about Lewis Brent, a National Transportation Safety Board investigator who survives a mysterious airplane crash.
  • "Turn," based on the nonfiction book "Washington's Spies" by Alexander Rose, revolves around the formation of the Culper Ring, a real-life circle of personal spies for George Washington. "Billy Elliot" star Jamie Bell will star as Abe Woodhull, a New York farmer who helps form the spy ring.
  • "Halt & Catch Fire," a 1980s-set drama about the rise of the personal computer world. "Pushing Daisies" alum Lee Pace plays a (Steve Jobs-ish? Bill Gates-ish?) visionary in the series, which will include "Breaking Bad" producers Mark Johnson and Melissa Bernstein among its executive producers.

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The third cycle of "The Walking Dead" was the most popular series — cable or network — among the 18-49 demographic last season. Season 4 of the series, with new showrunner Scott Gimple, premieres on Oct. 13 on AMC.