Ellis Says NO to Network TV

Ellis Says NO to Network TV

Ellis Fontana, Opinion Editor

I’ve gone mad, and I can’t take it anymore. And by “gone mad”, I mean I’m pretty ticked off for a while. And by “can’t take it anymore”, I mean I’m not going to do crap about it except complain on an opinion column in a high school newspaper. But still, I don’t like it and I would rather not have to deal with this.

And by “this”, I mean AMC. That’s right, I’m talking about you “American Movie Classics”, more specifically about your basic cable television channel. Recently, the AMC channel has been seen as a standout channel in terms of quality television on basic cable with critically acclaimed shows such as Breaking Bad, and Mad Men. However, you simply cannot talk about AMC these days without talking about one of the 21st century’s greatest cash cows: The Walking Dead. This would be the point where I would describe TWD to any readers who may be unfamiliar to the show, however due to it’s massive popularity that AMC has been milking for six years, I assume that anyone who says that they don’t know what TWD is, is lying. It is easily the biggest show on cable with 13.15 million people on average viewing every episode of this last season. Not even including the hour-long aftershow dedicated to discussing every episode or the new spin-off show about to enter its second season or the many conventions that the cast visit to meet thousands on thousands of fans. You would think that with such a large and dedicated fan base stretching over six years that AMC might try to treat one of their greatest creations with regards to its quality instead of a money machine to be abused as much as they please, right? Well you would be horribly wrong.

In short, The Walking Dead has been hyping up their season finale and the introduction of a whole new villain for several weeks, also alluding to the death of a main character. However, when the time came to swing the barbed-wire covered baseball bat, AMC noped the hell out and left the audience on a cliffhanger and wondering who died for the next six months. That’s right, a big, fat, swollen, oozing, CLIFFHANGER. Expectedly, the viewers did not react well and the showrunners, Scott Gimple and Greg Nicotero, came under fire from those upset fans still upset. While those behind TWD’s creative team assert that they made this decision for creative reasons, however this thinking still reeks of network involvement. And it wouldn’t be the first time that AMC have stepped into the show. Way back in the ancient times of 2011, AMC responded to the overwhelming praise of the show’s first season and critical acclaim of its director, Frank Darabont (AKA the guy who did Shawshank Redemption), by downgrading the budget, increasing the episodes, and firing Darabont when he protested and replaced him with Glen Mazzarra (AKA the guy who did… Crash). And sure enough, the next two seasons of the show under Mazzarra are now known as the show’s definitive low point.

Some people might be saying “But what about Mad Men or Breaking Bad?? Those were really good and AMC didn’t mess those up!” Well that’s because both of those shows were half owned by other studios, Bad is owned by Sony and AMC, and Men is owned by Lionsgate and AMC. This way AMC handles the airing of the show and all of the financial stuff, while the actual creative aspects of the show are left to the other production company where they actually care about the show’s quality and not just how much money it can make. On the other hand, TWD is owned solely by AMC, which means they can do whatever they want with it. Which means they’re going to do their best to just milk the hell out of it until it runs dry and dusty and they can discard it and move to the next fad. Obviously this isn’t exactly a good practice for dedicated fans. I think the one simple lesson to take from this system is this: Let’s be more Bad, and less Dead.