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October 8, 2015

'The Walking Dead' Walks Away from the Entire Writing Staff

by Catherine Lawson, posted Dec 1st 2010 6:45AM
'The Walking Dead'Do you ever find yourself watching TV and thinking "I could write that"? Or dreaming up new scenarios and dialogue for your favorite characters? Are you a knowledgeable fan of zombie dramas? If so, then Frank Darabont may have an opening for you.

It's been reported that Darabont, executive producer of AMC's hot new show, 'The Walking Dead,' has fired -- or "let go" to put it more politely -- the entire writing staff. What's more, he's apparently considering not replacing them for Season 2, instead assigning scripts to freelancers.

Is he completely crazy, or what? Only this week our own Jason Hughes called 'The Walking Dead' "the best show on television" and said he could see it getting an Emmy nomination for writing. So what's up?

While writer turnover between seasons is not unusual, even for a hit show, mass culling on this scale is distinctly unusual. However, according to the episode breakdown, the Season 1 staff writers may not have been earning their keep. Out of the total six episodes, Darabont wrote two -- the pilot and follow-up -- and either co-wrote or re-wrote the other four. And of those four, one was written by exec producer Robert Kirkman and the other by 'HawthoRNe' alum, writer/producer Glen Mazzara.

The system of using freelance TV scriptwriters is commonplace in the UK, where the Writer's Guild of Great Britain is not as ubiquitous or powerful as its US counterpart, The Writer's Guild of America. And the freelance model has recently been imported to the US via Starz's new stateside version of a British show. 'Doctor Who' spin-off 'Torchwood,' is apparently circumventing Writer's Guild rules because the BBC is the series producer.

However, 'The Walking Dead' execs may have a fight on their hands with the Writer's Guild if they try to forgo a writing staff. Plus, with the Season 2 order standing at 13 episodes, it seems like a logistical nightmare to produce a successful series without one, so it seems likely that a staff--freelancer combo will be used instead.

With Season 2 not premiering until October 2011 there's plenty of time for prospective writers to get to know their zombies and polish those resumes!

'The Walking Dead' airs Sundays, 10PM ET on AMC.

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Jeff R.

I knew this show was in trouble when it took three episodes for the charactors to realise you had to shoot the zombies in the head to kill them. Nobody in that group of nitwits figured that out any sooner than that? And now we have to wait another year for season two? Never mind!! I'll just watch the old Romero movies instead!

December 06 2010 at 4:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This makes sense. As much as I love the source material and the show, it feels like they hit a wall once Rick met up with the group. The Walking Dead is about the survivors, not the zombies. At the end of the first volume in the comics, there is even a line where Rick says the survivors are the real walking dead. The whole story relies heavily on interpersonal relationships, and you need writers that can handle that. The scene with the sisters fishing was more than enough to know that this team of writers wasn't up to the job. With that said, I have still enjoyed the show and am looking forward to Season 2.

December 02 2010 at 1:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Download Walking Dead AMC

I hear Darabont is looking to forgo having a writing staff for the second season of Walking Dead altogether and assign scripts to freelancers..Anyway the Show is wow..it's a rating giant ! Can't wait to see season two.

December 02 2010 at 10:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Diziet Sma

awesome. nobody here has read the comic books. doesn't really need script writers as it's already got a script. Just needs somebody to touch it up for tv.

December 01 2010 at 7:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Diziet Sma's comment
Big Al

Yeah darabont knows what he's doing. They have a script, just touch up on Kirkman's comic for TV. I'm just hoping they don't leave out too much of the comic. I'll be pissed if I never get to see "The Governor"...a role I think they cut put Merrell into. For all the comic book readers out there, Merrell's hand for Rick's hand doesn't sound too out there does it?

December 02 2010 at 8:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Big Al, I was thinking the same thing.

December 02 2010 at 3:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Good. Best news I've heard all day. Eps. 1 and 2 were awesome, but everything since then has been a snoozefest. I hope that whole group just gets killed off and the main character is left searching. The characters are annoying and overly dramatic for way too much screen time. The drop off after the second episode was significant and now I can see why, the current writing staff was horrible.

The story was great when He was searching for his family and was lone gunman style. I would have rather had him jumping from group to group looking for his family. Or some larger over arching plot, which might be developing with the mystery behind the CDC guy.

December 01 2010 at 5:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Scott K

This sounds good to me. Walking Dead is the most overrated show In recent history. Zombies are completely free of any mystery or intrigue so the show has to rely completely on interpersonal situations, which up until now were just OK at best. Hope this can increase the quality of the show.

December 01 2010 at 4:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

oh no don't mess up this great show

December 01 2010 at 2:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Addison Gast

Frank Darabont does not make many mistakes. this decision may turn out to be one of his best in years. Remember, not ALL writers belong to the Hollywood cult and the guild. There are many excellent writers that can't even get into the guild that are actually freelanceing and their work is used overseas.However, I have to disagree with Catherine Lawson (writer of this article) a staff-freelance team would not work--too much conflict--let the story roll from different directions and then Frank can use his judgement what gets scripted into action IMHO

December 01 2010 at 2:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

On IMDB the zombie movie fans are practically putting a bullet in the shows head. Be interesting to see if they can take this from a fanboy thing to mainstream and hold that audiance.

December 01 2010 at 2:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think you can tell there was a change between episodes 1 and 2 - some of the dialogue in ep 3 was awful. Overall still a promising show though.

December 01 2010 at 1:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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