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September 4, 2015

'Mad,' 'Bad' and 'Walking' Into the Headlines: An AMC Timeline

by Maureen Ryan, posted Aug 4th 2011 2:00PM
It feels as though AMC's scripted fare has been part of the TV landscape forever, but it's worth noting that Don Draper and 'Mad Men' only arrived on our TV screens four years ago.

As Don well knows, hitting the big time can create its own set of problems. As AMC has dealt with the challenges that success brings, it has endured a roller-coaster ride of conflict and controversy, especially in recent months.

Here's the short version of AMC's recent history, a companion piece to our interview with network President Charlie Collier.

June 25, 2006: The miniseries 'Broken Trail' debuts and garners a very impressive 9.7 million viewers for the channel.

July 19, 2007: 'Mad Men' debuts, goes on to win dozens of awards and reside at or near the top of most critics' yearly Top 10 lists.

Jan. 20, 2008: 'Breaking Bad' debuts, and after an uneven strike-shortened first season, eventually joins 'Mad Men' as one of the most critically acclaimed shows on TV.

Early 2009: In a ritual that would be repeated two years later, negotiations between 'Mad Men' creator Matthew Weiner and AMC become public and acrimonious, but he eventually signs on to do Seasons 3 and 4 of the show.

Nov. 15, 2009: 'The Prisoner,' a remake of the TV classic cooked up by the U.K.'s ITV and AMC, debuts to generally negative reviews (its overall score at Metacritic was 46).

Aug. 1, 2010: 'Rubicon' debuts to mixed reviews, but after a rocky start which included a change of showrunners, the drama about intelligence analysts acquires a small but passionate following. Sadly, the audience wasn't big enough to sustain the show, and it was canceled in November.

Oct. 31, 2010: 'The Walking Dead' debuts and becomes the network's highest-rated scripted drama ever.

Winter-early spring 2011: AMC's year of troubles begins as negotiations between Weiner and AMC break down in a very public fashion. The network and Weiner take to rival web sites to spin their sides of the story. A reported $25-$30 million deal is eventually signed in March, but the fifth season is delayed until early 2012.

March 2011: The network holds a weeklong "bake-off," in which the writers and producers behind half a dozen potential shows pitch their projects for AMC executives. In May, the network says none of the bake-off projects are going to be turned into pilots, though there are apparently plans to further develop two of the projects.

April 3, 2011: 'The Killing,' which chronicles the fallout from a young girl's murder and the progress of that criminal investigation, debuts to generally positive reviews. Its many creative problems are later noted by a number of critics who'd been intrigued by the show's central concept.

April 2011: The network commissions its first two reality shows, which will follow real-life advertising executives and employees of the Department of Homeland Security. According to a New York magazine story, the network has been taking comedy pitches as well.

June 19, 2011: The finale of 'The Killing' provokes a firestorm. Many viewers and critics are angry that the show didn't solve the crime at the center of the drama before the season was over. On July 28, when addressing the Television Critics Association press tour, AMC executive Joel Stillerman says the network should have "taken a different approach with respect to managing the expectations of what was going to happen within that season."

June 31, 2011: 'Walking Dead' executive producer and showrunner Frank Darabont complains about cuts to the show's second-season budget in a showrunners' roundtable posted by the Hollywood Reporter.

July 1, 2011: AMC Networks, which includes AMC, IFC, Sundance Channel and We TV, goes public. It's currently traded at about $37, which is below many analysts' original expectations.

July 26, 2011: Darabont, who only days before had been promoting 'The Walking Dead's' second season at Comic-Con, abruptly leaves the zombie drama. Amid much turmoil and speculation, he's replaced as showrunner by another 'Walking Dead' writer/producer, Glen Mazzara.

Aug. 1, 2011: As if the 'Killing,' 'Mad Men' and 'Walking Dead' controversies weren't enough, trouble breaks out on the 'Breaking Bad' front. Though the show returned in July to series-high ratings, some news reports say that AMC wants the show's fifth, and possibly final, season to consist of a mere six or eight episodes. As a result, Sony Pictures Television, which makes the show, shops 'Bad' around to other networks as negotiations between the show and network continue.

Nov. 6, 2011: The network plans to return to Western territory with the transcontinental railroad drama 'Hell on Wheels.'

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Um.....June 31, Mo? Aside from that, nice informative time-line.

And I'd forgotten Remember WENN. That was a really nice show! I'd buy the dvds for that show.

August 10 2011 at 8:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Come on FX, steal Breaking Bad from AMC!

August 05 2011 at 5:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joseph Finn

I'm going to assume they simply don't have the rights, since otherwise I can't be the only person wondering why AMC has never released Remember WENN, their first series, on DVD.

August 04 2011 at 3:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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