Is The Walking Dead Companion Series a Good Idea?
By James Wynne.
Last month, AMC announced that a spin-off of The Walking Dead is in development for 2015. The series will feature a whole new host of characters, giving us an alternate perspective on the zombie apocalypse to that of Rick Grimes and co., of which we have become so accustomed to over the last three years. Robert Kirkman will be capacitating as an executive producer, along with veterans of the original series, Gale Ann Hurd and David Alpert.
The natural reaction to this news for any devotee of The Walking Dead is excitement, of course. We’ll be getting double the dosage of zombie-slaying fun from 2015 onwards, and given the high quality storytelling that The Walking Dead consistently outputs, more of that can surely be no bad thing.
Kirkman is quoted as saying that the new series will pose a creative ‘blank page’ for him, being unbounded from the events charted in the comics, unlike the parent series it’s spawned from (although, it’s not like The Walking Dead hasn’t made significant deviations from the original source material from time to time, is it?). Despite this, rumours are still circulating that certain elements of the popular Telltale game series might well be incorporated, if not the entirety of its storytelling content.
Whilst I no doubt see the merits of translating what’s worked so well as a standalone tale on the console to the small screen, I can’t see it being done. It seems to me that what AMC are after here is not to be limited by adherence to Kirkman’s original writing, perhaps hoping to attract more writers and allow them the freedom of creativity that the main programme is largely denying them, while at the same time straddling the immense popularity of The Walking Dead.
Reeling in new writers is important, because with two shows the demands will be extremely arduous for those working on both. What’s important is that The Walking Dead itself doesn’t suffer for it. It still needs to be the priority, here. But if its contributors are being spread double, it’s foreseeable that there will be a substantial drop in efficiency. And It would be even more contentious were it for the sake of a subpar addition to the franchise.
Personally, I believe it’s a good idea with some tantalising potential, despite some of the worries I’ve mentioned. Kirkman’s still going strong with his comic book series, so his creative juices haven’t yet dried up. I therefore see no reason why this spin-off shouldn’t be a success in its own right, provided it’s given the same care and attention that went into Kirkman’s original works, and as long as none of The Walking Dead’s quality is sacrificed in its favour.