Furthering its mission to air the most successful TV drama ever supervised entirely by the accounting department, AMC announced today that The Walking Dead showrunner Glen Mazzara will depart the series at the end of its third season (which resumes Sunday, Feb. 10). If something about this feels familiar, it’s because Mazzara is now the second showrunner to leave the hit zombie show. Series developer Frank Darabont bolted — or, as many assume, was ousted — early in the production of season two, when Mazzara took over.
The announcement is both surprising and not. The Walking Dead continues to devour almost everything else on TV in the ratings, and most found the show to be creatively rejuvenated this season, as Mazzara stripped away the fat and amped up the pacing. Still, AMC is notorious for butting heads with creatives. Look no further than the Darabont debacle or the network’s grueling 2011 contract negotiations with Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner. (AMC purportedly wanted to reduce the show’s budget while also taking away minutes to increase ad time. Weiner and the network eventually worked out a compromise.)
The AMC announcement states that Mazzara is leaving because of “a difference of opinion about where the show should go moving forward,” which, if true, is kind of crazy because, again, everyone seems to agree that the show has clearly been moving in the right direction under Mazzara. (Around these parts, it’s no secret that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the season-three episodes following — SPOILER ALERT — the death of Lori. But even though I don’t feel they’ve made the most of the Woodbury/Governor arc, I’d still much rather watch this version of the show than what the first two seasons were offering.)
Still remaining with the series is Robert Kirkman, writer of The Walking Dead comic book, because there’s no way he’s jumping off this gravy train no matter how many showrunners AMC pushes out the door. Hell, maybe by the time the network alienates their fourth showrunner, Kirkman will have enough on-set experience to run the series himself.
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