For a while there, The Walking Dead's "No One Is Safe" mantra was best applied to its own showrunners. They fired Frank Darabont, then ousted Frank's No. 2, Glen Mazzara. Now we're onto Scott Gimple, and he seems like AMC's Goldilocks.
But the changes left some lingering tension: Frank is now suing AMC; and after Glen left, he implied that he didn't have as much control over the direction of the show as comic book writer/Walking Dead world creator Robert Kirkman.
Last month, Robert Kirkman held a Reddit AMA, mostly offering quick, humorous answers to various TWD questions. But when one fan asked if he could speak at all about the trend of multiple showrunners, and what each has brought to the show, RK offered a surprisingly lengthy response:
“Our SHOWRUNNER musical chair routine is not entirely uncommon in television,” RK began. “There have been countless shows that have changed showrunners and some even from season to season. It's unfortunate that this show exists under such a microscope and the behind the scenes drama has been pushed into the spotlight... but it's a SMALL price to pay for the success that we've had, so I'll take it. It would be wrong for me to go into any details on the various changeovers because for the most part I was really only on the sidelines during the changes. Although, I will state for the record that I do agree with AMC's decisions in each case and strongly feel they were only acting with the shows best interests in mind.”
After that, he got into the strengths of each past showrunner.
Frank Darabont: “I think Frank set the show up with a solid foundation to build upon and gave us a directing and visual style for the show that we still use because it's superb and has been a big part of what makes us stand apart on television. This show wouldn't exist without him and his work on the pilot still holds up as one of our strongest episodes. We were lucky to have a director of his caliber involved in the show from day one.”
Glen Mazzara: “Glen was a shot in the arm that the show needed in its second season and his instincts to move story up and really heighten the pace at times was a welcome addition to the show. The level of energy he brought to the show is something we still try to maintain. Personally, Glen was very good to me as a novice television writer and I feel that he was a great teacher whose lessons I still use often on the show. I owe him a lot.”
Scott Gimple: “Scott Gimple is an absolute rock star. I think that looking back at Season 4 as a whole it is by far our strongest season. The show is intense when it needs to be and slows down and digs into the interpersonal character drama in ways we never achieved without him. Scott's been integral to the show since he came on board for season 2 and honestly knows more about this world than I do. (And he definitely remembers the ins and outs of the comic book WAY better than me). I think we'll keep him.”
What do you think about the showrunner changes? Scott seems to be doing a great job, but do you agree that AMC acted in the best interests of the show each time, and Season 4 was by far the strongest season yet? Vote below!
The Walking Dead Season 5 premieres in October 2014 on AMC.