Tuesday 6 August 2013

Worried about another new showrunner? I’m not, and here’s why…

By now you must know that The Walking Dead has a new showrunner who will be in charge for Season 4. If you didn’t, then you do now. Yes, this is the 3rd showrunner that The Walking Dead has seen in its 3 season run thus far, and this seems to have a lot of fans worried.

But should you be worried? I’m not, and here’s why…

The new showrunner’s name is Scott M. Gimple. He has already been heavily involved in many episodes of The Walking Dead, so it’s not like he doesn’t know how everything works both on and off set. The original showrunner, Frank Darabont, did an exceptional job with Season One, and Glen Mazzara managed to carry that success on through season 2 and into season 3. Many fans are worried that this growing success simply can’t continue for a fourth season, especially with a new showrunner in the driving seat.

But here’s the thing…

Mr Gimple has in fact been the one who has written my favourite episodes in the series so far. Episodes such as Save The Last One, Pretty Much Dead Already, 18 Miles Out and Clear. I think we can all agree that these have been substantial episodes that have added a lot to the series as a whole. All of these episodes have involved pushing the characters further and further and have been extremely significant in changing the course, and the depth, of the story. Character development is something that Gimple seems greatly focused on, and this is where I think Season 3 went off track slightly, especially when compared with the previous two seasons. This is partly why I am so excited to see what he can do when given a whole season to work with. There is simply so much that can be done with these characters, and I can’t wait to see it all unfold on screen.

The season 2 mid-season finale, Pretty Much Dead Already, for example, still stands as being one of my favourite episodes so far. This was the moment at which every character was at breaking point due to the enduring search for Sophia and Glenn’s recent discovery of the walkers in Hershel’s barn. What made this episode so powerful for me was the way the writers managed to handle each character’s awareness of this situation. The whole episode managed to continually build upon the growing tension that was primarily held between Rick/Hershel/Shane and the rest of the group. There was then that brilliant scene with Shane and Dale out in the swamps where Shane tracked down Dale in order to get back the guns that Dale was trying to hide from Shane. This was the scene in which Shane muttered to Dale “Hell when you really look at it, cold light of day… We’re pretty much dead already!“. The episode then ended in such an explosive, jaw-dropping way when Shane busted open the barn forcing the group to step up and shoot down the walkers that escaped. That was of course up until the point when Sophia ended up stumbling out of the barn which left the entire group totally speechless. This was the moment when Rick was forced to step up and put her down as everyone else stood by in total shock. Easily one of the most, if not the most, powerful ending to an episode I have ever witnessed. And not just for The Walking Dead, that stands for any TV Show I have ever seen.

Looking at another episode, this time from Season 3, Clear, saw Rick, Carl and Michonne take a trip out to Rick’s hometown back where he was the sheriff’s deputy. This trip was in search of guns from the police station lockup. Upon realising that all the weapons have already been taken, they exit to the street in search of more from some of the local bars that Rick knows the whereabouts of. They soon encounter a stranger which results in a brief gunfight. This is soon ended by Carl who shoots the stranger in the torso which results in him fainting. We soon come to realise that this stranger is, in fact, Morgan from the season one pilot. When Morgan gains consciousness, Rick see’s just how crazy this world has made him as he tries killing Rick by stabbing him in the chest. Morgan then begs Rick to kill him, that is, up until the point when he recognises who Rick actually is as he exclaims “I know who you are!“. Morgan then tells Rick of the heartbreaking story how he lost his son Duane to his already zombie turned wife. “I was checking out a cellar, and I didn’t want Duane to come down there with me, and then when I came up…she was standing there right in front of him, and he had his gun up. And he couldn’t do it. So I called to him, and he turned, and then she was just, just on him!! And I see red, I see red, everything is red, everything I see is red, and I do it!! Finally… finally was too late.” This episode ends as Rick, Carl and Michonne leave to head back to the prison with the newly acquired weapons from Morgan, leaving Morgan behind as he professes he has to ‘clear’.

- Rick Grimes in Clear -
The whole way that those episodes were handled was simply brilliant and I really hope we get more episodes like that in Season 4. I take my hat off to Gimple and the rest of the writers for managing to construct those episodes in the faultless way that they did.

Other standout episodes for me such as 18 Miles Out, Hounded and this Sorrowful Life furthermore worked so well thanks to the writing process that went on behind them. Just bear in mind that all these episodes were written by Scott Gimple (18 Miles Out was co-written with Glen Mazzara), the very man who is the newest showrunner to The Walking Dead.

But it’s not just those past episodes that are the reason for my lack of worry for Gimple to take over as the new showrunner. Other reasons include the fact that he has worked on other TV Shows such as NBC’s Life, Fox TV’s Drive and ABC’s Flashforward. He also co-wrote the script of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Gimple created the cartoon, Fillmore! and the comic book Heroes Anonymous with Bill Morrison. Yeah, he has done a large number of things during his career.

Still not convinced? Here’s what Kirkman had to say about Gimple in a statement – “Scott has been an essential part of this show since he came aboard at the very beginning of Season 2. He’s contributed to guiding this show in a substantial way that has resulted in a lot of the key scenes and storylines fans have dubbed signature moments. I am thrilled to begin work on a brand new season of The Walking Dead with Scott at the helm, and I truly believe we could be embarking on what will be the best season of this show yet.”

Something else which is very exciting for me is the way Kirkman mentioned that Gimple is more closely adapting the comic book series than Frank Darabont or Glen Mazzara ever did. Gimple had the following to say in an interview with Daily Dead on the matter – “We’re at a point now where it has to change. We have characters that are not alive in the show, but still alive in the book and we have characters that never appeared in the book. There’s so much in the book, including stuff we passed in the timeline, that I thought was awesome. I really wanted to get back to it. We’re using big moments from the comic in different ways, with different characters, and in a different context. We’re using the novels as well. It’s been a lot of fun to fulfil our theme and characters in different ways, but I know that our fans will completely recognise them and I can think of a couple of moments in the trailer that people will see.“

So there go the reasons why I ain’t at all worried about Scott Gimple being the showrunner, and I truly believe that Season 4 may be the best season yet. Go ahead Gimple, prove me right.

But what do you think? Do you suspect there is no room left for improvement in the show? Or do you think that Gimple will steer The Walking Dead into an ever higher level of greatness? Leave your thoughts and comments below.

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