First things first: I love and worship AMC. I don’t like that I have to say what I’m about to. I rave about the network to anyone in earshot. Now…
AMC, how the fuck do you fuck this up?
You have Mad Men, a brilliant show that has reached an alarming amount of people despite the fact it’s textured, subtle, and nearly free of most of the staples of a TV watcher’s diet. You have a show for the ages, a classy bit of art that America has no right expecting on the tube. AMC had the balls and the luck to allow a Mad Men to happen and what was the main bit of coverage about the show over the half-past year pertaining to?
Contract squabbles. Budget issues. Cutting the show’s running time for more product placement.
A lot of those issues have been squashed and the show’s star is locked in for three more years. That’s great for AMC, but Mad Men should never had been an issue. It should have been protected and cherished. No one watches television stations because of the ads, the name of the network, the executive in charge, or because the network has a cool logo and slogan. They watch it for shows. When you have a Man Men you treat it like a little celluloid pope and surround it with shields and slaves and loving handlers. Mad Men ran into heat regarding money.
But the network allows The Killing to continue. And cost money. It’s an all-out shitstorm of a show and if it takes up $39.99 that would be better served keeping the good programming on the air then The Killing needs to be its own next victim. And unsolved. Fuck that show. It’s like a cocktease of a cocktease and then when it’s finally time to consummate it’s Jaye Davidson.
Then there’s The Walking Dead (our reviews of season one). A terrible show. A really weak show that people have supported because it exists. Zombies! On TV! Big deal. It’s not a good show. But it’s very lucrative, so good. It helps the network and there’s always the chance they’ll get it right (ie: veer as far away from the source material as possible post haste) down the line. One can hope. It’s a terrible show but it’s a sensation.
AMC had the balls and the luck to allow a The Walking Dead (our outtakes) to happen and what was the main bit of coverage about the show over the past half-year pertaining to?
Contract squabbles. Budget issues. The showrunner leaving, and it’s rumored to be because of money.
The Walking Dead is a powerhouse. For advertisers. For ancillary benefits. For ratings. For a network to venture out into other offbeat and potentially lucrative waters. I hate the show and am baffled I do since I love Frank Darabont and it’s filmed in my town. But I understand what it means to a ledger and to a network. It’d be a fool’s errand to risk the goodwill created in the fan community for the show. Now, Frank Darabont’s exit may have nothing to do with money. It may be the result of a power struggle or simply because he actually can’t handle the schedule. Who knows? What we do know is that he wisely shitcanned the writing staff of the first season and that people are jazzed for season two.
You don’t mess with it from a purse strings perspective. You just don’t.
But the network allows The Killing to continue. The television equivalent of smallpox of the polio. My current theory is that The Killing isn’t a show but rather a living thing. And it had compromising photos of everyone in power at AMC engaged in some sort of shunting.
Now comes Breaking Bad (my extensive recent coverage). A juggernaut of a show that has showcased nearly perfect consistency and quality from episode one to this past Sunday’s romp. The show’s creator has said that the next season may be its last. For creative reasons, as a show about this subject has a definitely arc and to run it into the ground would scuttle so much great work. AMC has another golden goose with the show. Its ratings have grown, which is terrific. It’s a critic’s darling, which is terrific. It’s an awards magnet, which is terrific. It is “must see” television, which is terrific. It’s not The Killing, which is terrific.
Yep, budget issues. Network pressure to trim the episode load. Stupid shit. AMC, what in the name of Dr. Giggles are you thinking? You have a massive hit in the zombie show. You have two of the best television shows EVER in your current queue with the creative team intact and energized and at least another year of guaranteed television gold ahead.
You’ve pawned the overly expensive Damages off to Direct TV. [My bad, FX]. You felt so good about The Killing that you renewed its mangy ass for another year.
It’s sit back and admire the breadth of your domain time, not open up the ledger and squeeze pennies out. In reality The Killing shouldn’t be an issue here. I’m ripping it because I hate it and it deserves it. The issue should be that a network has a very diverse array of successful properties, some for material and some for their handle on the zeitgeist. That is a recipe to MAKE money, not a beacon to ruin all that progress over it.
AMC had better get right because it’s a very vital corner of the dramatic television world and believe you me… HBO and Showtime and FX have been paying attention. They’re in this business to win it and they have the horses to pull it off. AMC is no worse a network. It’s time to step up and show it.
HBO has all but said that they’ll support Game of Thrones until George R.R. Martin is done with it.
That’s how you play the goddamn game.
And to lighten the mood, here’s the best thing ever: