Following the success of Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul, AMC has pre-emptively ordered two seasons of a Walking Dead spinoff series, which is set in a time period prior to the original show.
AMC ordered a pilot episode in 2014 and has greenlit a 6-episode first season run, set to debut late this summer, and has also ordered a second season for 2016. The spinoff is said to be a prequel that takes place in Los Angeles during the early stages of the zombie outbreak. AMC has confirmed the setting, but has not yet confirmed all of the plot details. The pilot was penned by Robert Kirkman, creator of the comic series, and Dave Erickson, who will serve as showrunner.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the series will star New Zealander Cliff Curtis (Gang Related) as Sean Cabrera, a teacher who shares custody of his son with his ex-wife and is trying to do good. Kim Dickens (House of Cards, Sons of Anarchy, Gone Girl) will play Nancy Tomkins, a guidance counselor working at the same school as Cabrera. Frank Dillane (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) and Alycia Debnam Carey (Into the Woods) have also been tapped to play Nancy’s children.
Given that The Walking Dead is the most-watched scripted program on cable, the move isn’t a huge surprise. The Walking Dead is already well into its 5th season, and AMC has recently said goodbye to its groundbreaking series Breaking Bad. AMC will also see the sun set on Mad Men, one of its more critically-acclaimed series, this year. The network seems to be ushering in a second generation of companion programs in hopes to continue the success of these properties and broke records with the series premiere of Better Call Saul.
The question is whether the series will do as well in spite of its prequel status – can it maintain audience interest while headed towards a known, inevitable world state?