The Week in TV: The Walking Dead Zombies Kill Their Maker
Frank Darabont got his Walking papers.
Zombies, gangsters and terrifying ex-wives: This was the week in TV Land.
• Big news for AMC: Frank Darabont is leaving The Walking Dead. Darabont was a key player in the series: He developed it from the comic book, served as showrunner and exec producer, wrote four of the first season's six episodes as well as the upcoming second-season premiere, and he directed the pilot, which is one of the best pilots of the past ten years. Network higher-ups didn't go into much detail at the Television Critics Association press tour about the departure, other than to say that Glen Mazzara, the former No. 2, would be stepping up to take over the show.
The timing of Darabont's exit is a little weird -- in addition to taking place right before the TCA panels, it happened after Darabont had appeared at San Diego Comic-Con to promote the show like nothing was wrong -- but it's possible the network wanted to wait until after Comic-Con to drop the bomb so they could maximize fan interest in clips from the new season. One story that's shaping up is that Darabont might have had issues adjusting to the pace of a weekly TV series after years of making feature films, but who knows? Right now, all that's certain is that he's out, and though he might wind up contributing to the show at some point, it's not his baby anymore. Here's hoping Mazzara and crew can keep the ship on course and tell some good stories with a longer season.
• Last season's Parks and Recreation finale featured a brief glimpse of Tammy One, Ron Swanson's first ex-wife, but nothing more. Now, producers have cast the role: Patricia Clarkson will appear as Tammy in at least two episodes, beginning with the Sept. 22 season premiere. This is an interesting and potentially awesome choice that highlights just how differently co-creator Michael Schur and company want to make the first Tammy. Megan Mullally's insane, sexually voracious Tammy is a fantastic foil for Ron, but Tammy One is supposed to be even scarier, and Clarkson's got the perfect vibe to play a domineering disciplinarian.
• TNT has decided to renew Franklin & Bash, their latest might-as-well-be-on-USA series about high-power characters doing totally awesome things without the slightest regard for your boring old ways of doing things, man. The show is about lawyers (I think), and it's a pretty successful one for TNT, proving once again that your parents will watch anything as long as it's on the same channel as that Kiera Sledgewicker lady who's in The Closers, you know, the one about the Southern lady cop. That one. The show will either continue to run for seven more summers or get quietly canceled in a year or two. Either way, something remarkably similar will replace it, so there's no cause for alarm.
• As if Michael Kenneth "Omar Little" Williams weren't enough (or enough names), the upcoming season of Community will also feature John Goodman and Martin Starr. Goodman will play Greendale's vice dean of the school of air conditioning repair, leading to competition between Goodman's character and Jim Rash's Dean Pelton. Goodman will appear in at least six episodes, spending at least three of them recording vitriolic video blogs about New Orleans and acting pissy toward anyone who confuses jazz with Dixieland. Meanwhile, Starr will appear as a political science professor and project adviser for the team in at least one episode. Insert your own Party Down reference here.
• Mad Men is finally streaming on Netflix Watch Instantly (you know, the combination online video/DVD service that's the worst thing in the world). This is a nice add for the service. I'm one of the many viewers working to catch up with the show -- I am many, many seasons behind -- and I've been happily doing so via DVD, but this will make the process even easier. The upcoming fifth season goes into production August 8 for a 2012 premiere, so there's plenty of time to make up the episodes you might have missed.
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