For many of you, the word prequel causes a visceral, involuntary cringe response. George Lucas made sure of that. The fact that anyone still uses the term after it was poisoned like that is amazing, but the truck just keeps right on rolling. This is also the latest description floating around in regards to the impending spinoff of AMC’s massive horror hit, The Walking Dead. While this adds a touch more clarity to the show, content wise, there is also an idea, though equally vague, of when we could see this series.
Comic creator Robert Kirkman, who is birthing the show along with fellow Walking Dead producers Gale Anne Hurd and David Alpert, has said that the series will explore different aspects of the zombie epidemic. According to the folks over at TV Line, the water cooler buzz is saying that this could mean exploring the days leading up to the outbreak and all of the efforts to contain the spread. You know, all the stuff that the Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) missed when he was out cold in a coma at the hospital.
The simple fact that the spin off could be a prequel doesn’t tell us much, if anything, about what the show will look like. One big question is, just how pre are we talking about here? Another is, if you stick hard and fast to the definition of a prequel, how far into the end of the world to you take the action? At some point that aspect flies right out the window and you’re just right smack in the middle of it again.
More than likely, the new series will start sometime before the epidemic, just at the cusp where it’s starting to happen, but no one is paying attention. This is basically the set up for every pandemic story ever told—there are warning signs that are universally ignored by governments and citizens alike. Maybe one guy is paying attention, and maybe that’s who the series will follow. At some point it will be too late, and the world will hit that point of no return and will start to resemble the world we know of The Walking Dead.
That’s fine, but if this is the way they go—and this is all speculation at this point—you’re in real danger of this turning into a story you’ve seen countless times before. However it comes to pass, I hope they do enough to differentiate the new series from the herd, and come up with something new and fresh.
I’d like to see them do something akin to what American Horror Story does, where each season is essentially a mini-series that follows a single story arc. Not quite a true anthology, you get the chance to tell a number of different stories, but tell them in a complete, thorough manner. Each season could introduce new characters, a new place, and follow them through the outbreak, even into the early stages of the fall of society. This approach gives you the opportunity to show a variety of experiences. One season might show what it was like in an urban setting, another could explore the outbreak deep in the heart of Alaska. You could go all over the world and we could finally see what the zombie apocalypse looks like somewhere besides Georgia.
Hopefully they could cut off before it starts to look familiar. We know what the world of The Walking Dead looks like, and we don’t need another series that tells us the exact same thing. This is a pipe dream, I know, but until we hear anything concrete, we can hope.
This is, of course, all rumor and speculation. AMC is in the early stages of development, and at the moment nothing is set in stone. Everything is subject to change, but don’t expect to find out too much too soon. The network has their eye set on a 2015 release, so there is a lot of time for this project to grow and evolve, but the spectrum is narrowing.