2011 was an interesting year for AMC, as they simultaneously managed to run one show that was the most successful on cable television, another that was among the most critically acclaimed, and yet managed to lose much of the gleam of their reputation. While Walking Dead and Breaking Bad ran strong, the absence of Mad Men was definitely felt since it was the result of a power struggle between network and creator, meanwhile Walking Dead abruptly lost its big-name showrunner and a piece of its budget. While I elected to abstain for following the second season after my consistent frustration with the first season, from what I’ve been told of the second season the show did not gain anything by losing Darabont’s influence.

2012 may be the year that all that turns around and the AMC brass patch up their “image”, as their plans for the new year suggest they’re empowering their successful shows, rather than curbing them. This will manifest in the form of a larger third season for Walking Dead with 16 episodes rather than 13, the return of Mad Men with a two-hour premiere that will soon be followed by a Jon Hamm-directed episode, and another two-hour premiere for The Killing (mirroring it’s 1st season, double premiere). So, it’s nice to see these shows getting to make the splash with their premieres that they deserve, and that AMC’s reaction to success isn’t always going to be budget-cuts and restraint.

If you need to set your DVR or mark your calendar, remember that Mad Men starts up its fifth season on March 25th, while The Walking Dead starts up the back-half of its second on February 12th.

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via Dark Horizons