This Sunday Walking Dead will finish its first season on AMC. But showrunner Frank Darabont is already at work getting ready for the 13-episode second season — by firing his entire writing staff. Could this mean trouble for Walking Dead?
Deadline is reporting a rumor that director, writer and Walking Dead producer Frank Darabont has let the entire writing staff go. And instead of hiring a new staff for the second season, Darabont is toying with the idea of assigning freelancers to each script. While assigning freelancers to TV scripts isn't anything new, canning the whole writing staff is pretty unusual, and we're still weighing out the pros and cons of this executive decision.
On one hand, Darabont penned the series pilot and the second episode solo, while co-writing and rewriting the remaining four episodes of Walking Dead's first season. Two of the four episodes that Darabont didn't write were created by "non-staffers" Glen Mazzara and original comic creator Robert Kirkman. So in reality, Darabont is already carrying the bulk of the writing work on his shoulders, so there may not be any need to blow the second season budget on an in-house writing staff.
That being said, the second season has a total of 13 episodes. That doubles the amount of time the production crew will have to spend under the boiling Atlanta sun filming the new episodes. Plus, whatever writer ends up tackling the new scripts, they're going to be under a very tight schedule. And if Darabont wants to stay as heavily involved as he has been throughout season one (and it sounds like he does) it's going to take double the effort to write, re-write, produce, shoot, and edit the new season. The burn out factor seems almost inevitable, even with the original comic book outline.
And while we're on the topic of the original, the TV series has already taken a massive deviation from the books. We're just five episodes in and already show is attempting to explain the chemical root of the zombie-making virus, whereas the comic focused solely on survival. The more wholly original material Walking Dead the TV show aims to produce, the more eyes we'd rather have on each new script. The writers' room is where a lot of these new story ideas would get hashed out — if one exists. With no staff writers, there's no writers' room.
All of this has yet to be confirmed and is merely a rumor — but we're hoping that Darabont goes ahead and hires a few actual staff writers, as opposed to freelancers, for season 2, for the betterment of Walking Dead.