Though once a scrappy young originals department, AMC has quickly turned into a major player; meaning, it’s got not just one franchise but two. On the heels of its “Breaking Bad” prequel, the cable network has just given the formal go-ahead for another prequel series, this one based on “The Walking Dead.” So eager is the studio to capitalize on the massive success of its new flagship program, they’ve even given the new series a two-season commitment right out of the gate.
Plans have been in development for some time now, with news breaking of the networks scheme back in late 2013. The first season of the spinoff — which was titled “Cobalt” during the pilot process — will consist of six episodes, just as “The Walking Dead” did for its initial run. AMC has slated it for a “late summer” debut with Season 2 to air sometime in 2016.
AMC has not confirmed any plot details, though early rumors state it takes place in Los Angeles at the beginning of the zombie outbreak. Cliff Curtis, Kim Dickens, Frank Dillane and Alycia Debnam Carey are all set to star in the companion series.
Robert Kirkman, who created “The Walking Dead” comic book series, co-wrote the pilot with Dave Erickson (“Sons of Anarchy”), and both will executive produce the new series along with Gale Anne Hurd and Dave Alpert. Erickson, who also worked on “Low Winter Sun” and “Marco Polo,” will be the showrunner.
“The Walking Dead” is currently the No. 1 show on television among adults 18-49, an astounding achievement given its distribution on cable and stomach-churning subject matter. AMC lost its other critical and ratings hit when “Breaking Bad” left the air in 2013 and is about to say goodbye to its first original series — and landmark program — “Mad Men” in just a few months. Other than these three shows, the network has struggled to create enticing original programs. Their two most recent entries —”Halt and Catch Fire” and “Turn” — struggled to find an audience, making both spinoff series (“The Walking Dead” companion and “Better Call Saul”) essential rollouts for the network. We’ll see what happens later this year.