I’ve mentioned more than once my amusement at a successful film suddenly becoming a trilogy and the creative teams’ reactions. “We always thought of it as a trilogy,” they would say, when on a lot of these things, we know damn well they’re amazed they wound up as successful as they were. I’m looking at you, Blade. I don’t think we’re surprised anymore at the Hair Trigger Franchise effect. And now we’re looking at Walking Dead getting a spinoff.
But I imagine going back in time fifteen years and telling my younger self, “Seriously, don’t go to Bolivia.” Then after that was taken care of, I would say, “Not only is there going to be a zombie TV series, but it’s going to launch a spinoff. More CSI: New York than The Jeffersons, but you get what I mean.” To which Younger Widge would say, “What the hell’s a CSI?” But by that point, I would have run out of quarters to put in the timeporter and wound up back in the present.
[ad#longpost]Anyway, the President of AMC, Charlie Collier, said, “Building on the success of the most popular show on television for adults 18-49 is literally a no-brainer.” And you’ve got to give them that. But the question now becomes: what the hell do they do?
Kirkman has stated we’re leaving the realm of the comics far behind us now, and I know it seems like people vs. zombies is the same thing pretty much wherever you go and wherever New Show is set…but I disagree. World War Z (the book, mind you) proved that you could tell a ton of stories based around the same apocalypse. (Or if you have read the book–or listened to the badass, all-star audiobook–then check out The Dead, one of the best Romero-style zombie films in a while, but this time set in Africa.)
My initial thought was to find some place completely different than here (Georgia) to set it. Going completely urban doesn’t seem interesting enough. Hell, I initially thought it might be interesting to be on a series of islands–Hawaii, perhaps. You’re cut off from the mainland, you’ve got to deal with zeds already there and they keep washing up on the beaches. Might be fun.
But then I remembered a spinoff that already happened, at least in comic form, to the original zombie franchise: Night of the Living Dead: London. Written by Clive Barker and Steve Niles with art by Carlos Kastro, it came out from Fantaco in 1993. I didn’t even realize it had been a miniseries–I snagged it in a collected trade form back when it first came out in a collection. How does the Royal Family deal with the Romero Apocalypse once it crosses the pond? It’s Barker and Niles together, so it’s as mental as you might imagine.
And maybe it’s because I watch way too much British television, but I’d say The Walking Dead: London would be fascinating. And yes, it could be good: I’ve watched several episodes of Law & Order UK and I quite like it. Have an AMC co-production with a British channel and you could snag some fantastic British actors in guest spots. And yes, I know we’ve had two 28 films over there, but you have to admit rage zombies are a lot different than what they’re facing in Walking Dead.
Because the whole “Are American audiences on board with a British TV series?” thing is still a question for the networks, here’s a (slightly) more doable suggestion: as much as I hate to say it, go and eat World War Z‘s lunch.
I’ve said to anyone who would listen that HBO needed to have World War Z as a series and not as a feature film. Ideally, do small seasons like BBC’s Sherlock–in essence, a number of TV movies. That way you could do the submarine story, the otaku story, the mercenary story…and make up some new ones. Hand it off to different directors. You know, have a blast.
So what if you had, in essence, a Walking Dead anthology series? Want to set a story in Hawaii? Do it. Want to set a story in the UK? Great. Want to go all Day of the Dead on us and show us a lab furiously working on a cure while trying not to kill each other? Sounds good to me.
I realize that there’s probably tons of reasons why that wouldn’t work, mostly having to do with practicality and cost. You know, whatever, details, details. But it’s fun to think about. I’m curious: what would you do with it?
And AMC, since I know you read this…if nothing else, at least snag the people behind Cargo to direct an episode of something somewhere. Seriously.