With Emmy-winning powerhouses Mad Men and Breaking Bad, AMC is at the forefront of cable TV drama. What fans and geeks have hoped for, this year's Comic-Con audience can attest to, and the rest of the world is about to find out is that the network is poised to break all-new ground in October with The Walking Dead. After last Friday's presentation of the first-ever footage from the initial six-part series adaptation of Robert Kirkman's acclaimed comic books, those who saw all seemed to agree that this might be the project that changes everything - a series so audacious, so damned good that Hollywood finally realizes the medium best suited to adapting long-run comics series is television, where the serial format gives the rich storylines room to breathe and develop.
Horror fans, comics nerds and straight-up TV geeks alike have been buzzing about The Walking Dead for some time now, ever since it was announced that writer-director Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile), partnered as a producer with Gale Anne Hurd (The Terminator, Aliens), was bringing Kirkman's epic saga of a zombie apocalypse to television. The creator had gone on record more than a few times prior to that stating that he'd refuse the rights to an adaptation if it wasn't going to be done properly. Hurd explains, however, that she and Darabont were determined: "I pursued it. Frank and I tackled Robert Kirkman at the last Comic-Con, we held him down, we plied him with food and drink! And there's a comfort level with AMC, if you look at the other programming they've got. You don't go, 'Oh, they're going to insist on this becoming something that it isn't'."
Indeed, besides having Darabont at the creative forefront - this is, after all, the man whose film adaptation of Stephen King's The Mist featured an ending so horrific and dark that King said he wished he'd thought of it - AMC might be an ideal landing port. It may not be premium cable, but they have given the creative team a great deal of leeway according to the director.
"I'm not experiencing any constraints here. And we're doing some pretty edgy stuff, to the point where at times I'm thinking 'I can't believe they're going to let us put this on television!' I mean, I don't want to make it sound like some fucking snuff film where puppies are being clubbed by sledge hammers," Darabont laughs. "But still! You know, I guess the bottom line is in terms of how we want to depict something -- whether we want to do 'less is more' or if we want to do 'more is more' -- We're making those decisions based upon how we feel like shooting the thing, and not on what we can or cannot do."