AMC: The ‘M’ stands for ‘Movie’

With announced TV-movies for both The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad, it’s as though some new, young executive at AMC has just discovered that long-form series aren’t the only medium for storytelling.

You get a movie, and you get a movie! All our beloved franchises get a movie!

As far as The Walking Dead goes I think this is the right decision for the brand. Robert Kirkman and co have established his world as the zombie fiction universe. We live in the age of franchises, more content is only a good thing. Hardcore fans will watch everything regardless of quality, and word will get out if a specific film or series has a narrative worth watching.

AMC did their usual bait and switch last Sunday, as they had teased the “departure of Rick Grimes”, declaring episode five of season nine as “Rick Grimes’ final episode”. I’d fallen for their tricks before (Glenn, dumpster), so I knew the character wasn’t going to die. But I was curious to see how they would write him out of a show in which death walks on two legs and is around every corner.

Rick has been taken somewhere else in America, so that Andrew Lincoln can star in three films set in The Walking Dead universe. The latest episode was the best written in some time, in fact, this whole series is the strongest the show has felt since season five.

On top of this, they’ve introduced a major time-jump after Rick’s departure, as a way of soft-rebooting the characters and allowing for completely new narratives. This is, presumably, thanks to new show-runner Angela Kang.

I can imagine a world where the old show-runner remained, and we then had a subsequent twelve episodes of our cast crying about Rick. A (minimum) five year time jump allows for the characters to change, and have moved on from the leadership of Rick Grimes. Although I doubt his memory will be at all forgotten.

These movies can be good if they’re kept to small, personal stories — Reminiscent of the first series of the show. Some of the best narratives in modern fiction have been low-concept, character-driven stories, set in high-concept, often post-apocalyptic worlds.

The Walking Dead is a universe filled with sprawling narratives, hundreds of characters, and plenty of comic books to still be adapted. Making TV-movies as spin-offs, that feature the central protagonist of the entire show, makes perfect sense for the franchise. More of those stories can be told, and the world can grow at a faster pace, ultimately pleasing the content-hungry fans.

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But what about Breaking Bad? A show often, and rightly, cited as the best open and close narrative in TV history. Breaking Bad is the very definition of golden-age television. Vince Gilligan took a simplistic, genius premise and allowed both his story and characters to breathe over the course of sixty episodes.

Breaking Bad wouldn’t have the same effect across a two-hour story. There would be room for all of the big scenes, but entire characters, sub-plots and beautiful, small moments would be lost.

Now, rumours are that the film will be about Jesse Pinkman, following the events of Breaking Bad. Even though I think his character’s eventual fate would be best left to speculation, and that more time spent with Jesse would weaken his characterisation, I also didn’t think an entire show about Saul Goodman was necessary, but it remains compelling television.

My main issue here isn’t Gilligan’s need to return to his established universe, but that we’re to only get a couple more hours in it.

If AMC had announced a Breaking Bad sequel, with Aaron Paul as the lead, following the life of Jesse Pinkman ten years after his escapades with Walter White, then I’d be all-in. Gilligan has proven himself a highly competent storyteller, who has a real gift for long-form television narratives.

I’m worried that a TV-movie, two hours of new content, would either feel too rushed OR be kept small-scale, but leave us wanting more. No matter which it is, the Breaking Bad sequel film likely won’t feel as satisfying as a brand new full series, or it not even happening at all.

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Movies based on TV shows rarely work, and a successful transition in the opposite direction is more common. The fact that AMC are slated to be making them as TV-movies work in favour of the projects, as they will be kept on a smaller-scale and hopefully close to the narratives they blossomed from.

I’d like to see Vince Gilligan eventually work on something that isn’t set in the Breaking Bad universe. He can tell a similar story — Character-driven yet still about the deep world of organised crime — with a similar tone, and nobody would complain.

His ability to create richly unique and compelling characters is enviable, and so, personally, I’d like to see that brain put to use on a new story. However, we live in the age of franchise and bankable property, and unless your name is Stephen King, you aren’t going to get by as a writer on your name alone.

It could be that Gilligan has many ideas for other TV shows or movies, but AMC is throwing enough money at him to continue telling the stories of the people he originally dreamt-up a decade ago.

It’s as though AMC have remembered that the M in their initial stands for Movie, and so now they’ve decide to return to the roots of their original branding without thinking too much about the consequences.

No matter how I feel about them, they’ve peaked my interest enough for me to watch the movies of The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad universes, and that’s all that matters from a business standpoint.

People, like me, complain about the over-reliance on established franchises in modern fiction, but we only have ourselves to blame. We’re the ones who’re still shovelling it all down, like the filthy little content goblins we are.


Today is Thursday, November 8th and bigger things have happened in the last twenty-four hours, I just needed to write about something light. Stay safe, hold on to each other.

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Learning to Podcast

Throughout August, myself, Audra (wife) and Jason (not wife) have had practice recording sessions together, so that tonight we can record the very first episode of our first podcast! None of us were comfortable around a microphone, so we decided to break the podcasting ice together over the course of several weeks.

In our first recording session we just hit record and tried to forget about the microphone. We talked as we usually would, only with the knowledge that it was being recorded for a purpose. In this initial session we learned to reduce our cross-talk and feel at-home around recording equipment — but none of it was suitable for public listening, and not just because we talked graphically about various fetishes.

So in our next session we each chose a topic to talk to the others about, for a minute or so, before opening to a wider discussion with the trio. This resulted in three, fifteen minute conversations about the upcoming Spyro Reignited Trilogy, the Dream Daddy Dating Sim and Youtube’s art-pop project Poppy.

With a bit of amateur editing, controlling of the levels (?) and a recording of an intro/outro for the “mock pilot”, we ended up with a solid podcast episode that contained decent micro-conversations and enough laughs to keep it engaging. We’ve invested in a decent enough microphone, so it doesn’t sound any worse than a lot of amateur podcasts I listen to. I am a little worried about my editing skills, however — hopefully they improve with practice.

So tonight we begin recording our serial podcast, which is both very niche and not at all culturally relevant. In our podcast we’ll be revisiting the 00’s TV show Lost, a show that to this day divides the opinion of the internet. We’ll be aiming to record throughout the rest of the year, before we begin releasing episodes in January 2019 — to coincide with the 15-year anniversary of the show.

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I was a Lost obsessive growing up, hooked from the very start. The only TV dramas I’d watched before Lost had been episodic, procedural shows. It began in 2004, before the days of streaming-services and binge watching.

Back then, for the most part, network TV channels had to produce shows that viewers could easily drop in and out of. These were shows like CSI, ER or NCIS (I think they all had to be acronyms as well). Procedurals still had a season-arc for their characters, or two-part episodes, but typically you could skip a week and still know what’s going on in that world.

You couldn’t do that with Lost. For the first few seasons (at least) it was appointment viewing, reminiscent of shows like Twin Peaks, where fans would get together to watch the show and then discuss theories with each other. Of course, by the time Lost came around, most of these discussions were taking place online, on fan forums and message boards.

I’m only a little ashamed to admit that as a fourteen year-old I was discussing Lost online with total strangers — but that’s why I’ll be playing the role of “superfan” in our revisit podcast. I’ll be prepared to defend Lost on its more ridiculous twists and turns and attempt to rebut any frustrations over unanswered questions.

Audra will be playing the role of “new fan”. She’s seen the show through once, fairly recently, and while she enjoys many elements of the show, she’s less apologetic over some of the narrative decisions made in later seasons. She’ll be asking if this show is worth watching a second time, and finding out if a second watch (combing over details missed the first time around) makes her a superfan too.

Our friend, Jason, has never seen a single episode of Lost — and that’s exciting. He’ll be playing the role of “first time viewer” and we’ll be recording each podcast episode immediately after he’s seen an episode of Lost. He’ll be the measuring stick for how well the show has held up after fifteen-years, and also an experiment in watching only a single episode of a serialised TV show every week, instead of being able to binge-watch. Old-school, pre-streaming-style.

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For us, this podcast isn’t about getting a lot of listeners, it’s about having some fun, acquiring experience and gaining confidence.

We’ll learn how to produce a podcast, hopefully increasing our collective knowledge with every episode we record, edit and release. We have several other ideas for much less specific podcasts that may be more marketable, but we wanted to start with something that A) we knew a lot about and B) would only require a round-table discussion and not any extra writing/interviewing.

For me, I get to expand my creative portfolio. I absolutely love keeping this blog, and I love than around a hundred people are interested in reading these words every day (wow, thanks, wow). I know it’s not exactly a focused blog, and maybe I would find more success if I found a central theme, but for now it’ll continue to be as sporadic as it has been, as I use these words as a warmup to my long-form writing.

My YA dystopian novel is almost finished, I should type the final word of the epilogue this upcoming week. After which I begin the editing and rewriting process, something I’m surprisingly excited for this time around. I can’t wait for the rejection letters on this one, because I finally believe in a story of mine, and for people to even consider it for a moment will mean a lot.

So podcasts will just be another layer, as I continue on the path of increasing my work ethic and productivity. Historically I’ve been a lazy person, who couldn’t work on more than one project at once. I’ve beaten-back that bad habit and now I get frustrated when I’m not working. So, I’m hoping that podcast editing will help with those evenings where I’m burned out from writing all day, but want to be working on something else.

Watch this space for podcast episodes in the future, if that’s the sort of thing you’re interested in. If not, thank you so much for reading this blog. I’d love to be even more connected to all of you, so if you have a Twitter then leave your handle in the comments below and I’ll give you a follow!

Have a great weekend and be bloody excellent to each other.


Today is Saturday, September 1st and I can’t wait to talk about Lost with other humans this evening.

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If you like what I write and can spare a dollar, then it’d be a greatly appreciated act of kindness! If you like what I write and can’t spare a dollar then I greatly appreciate you! If you hate what I write and also can’t spare a dollar, then why are you still reading this?

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