In the least shocking news of the day, AMC has officially renewed the number one hit show on TV, ‘The Walking Dead‘ for a fifth season. The zombie apocalypse thriller returned for its fourth season just three weeks ago, drawing 20.2 million viewers, setting a new record, topping its own previous excellent ratings. With the dearly departed ‘Breaking Bad’ finished and with signature series ‘Mad Men’ ending after its next season, I’m sure AMC is anxious to hang onto this cash cow, especially considering that recent offerings, like ‘Low Winter Sun’ have failed to find an audience.
‘The Walking Dead’ is based on the hit black and white Image Comics series, written by Robert Kirkman, who also executive produces the show, and is drawn by Charlie Adlard. The showrunner for the fourth season, Scott Gimple will remain in that role for the following season. In addition to Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, David Alpert, Greg Nicotero and Tom Luse will return as executive producers. The comic book series is the top selling of any book that isn’t published by “the Big Two” publishers, DC and Marvel.
The TV version is so popular that it spawned a “talk show” ‘The Talking Dead’ hosted by Chris Hardwick, which originally aired much later after an encore airing of ‘The Walking Dead’ and follow-up program ‘Comic Book Men’ but was so popular, it bumped both broadcasts and began airing right after ‘The Walking Dead’ and even went from only lasting thirty minutes to an hour.
AMC President, Charlie Collier had this to say on the renewal:
“We are very happy to make what has to be one of the most anti-climactic renewal announcements ever. This is a show that has erased traditional distinctions between cable and broadcast. Its expanding base of passionate fans has grown every season, most recently – and most notably – with the season four premiere earlier this month, which broke viewership records for the series and became the biggest non-sports telecast in cable history.”
Prior to the Season Four premiere, AMC announced that they would be developing a second TV series set within the same world of ‘The Walking Dead’ but that would focus on a different set of survivors in an entirely different location than Rick Grimes and company. That show isn’t expected to premier until 2015, however.
I know that some of us that have read the comics can sometimes get frustrated with the TV version, but I think by this point, we’ve come to accept that this is a different project entirely. And Gale Anne Hurd dropped a hint that another storyline from the comics would pop up this season. (I have my theories.)
So even though the new season has just kicked off, it’s nice knowing that we have at least one more to look forward to. And if rating sustain themselves, I’m sure we’ll have a lot more after that.