If The Walking Dead has proved anything over its three season run, it’s that no one is safe – not actors and definitely not showrunners.
Scott M. Gimple has been appointed as the AMC stalwart’s third showrunner, replacing Glen Mazzara, who took over the reins back in Season 2. Of course, Mazzarra took over after Frank Darabont was famously let go. For the most part, the show was in good hands with Mazzara, but he was fired soon the announcement of a Season 4 pickup.
Gimple will start calling the shots when the show returns for said fourth season. He’s been heavily involved with the show in a writing and producing capacity since the start of Season 2. His TV resume also stretches long with writing and story-editing credits in semi-successful shows like FlashForward and Life. For moviegoers, this doesn’t necessarily add to his esteem, but Gimple also co-wrote the screen play for Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.
But The Walking Dead may be his biggest stage yet and the pressure to keep the show a ratings juggernaut will undoubtedly be high.
What fans care most about is that the quality of the show is kept high and the action is frenetic (read: more zombies, more gruesome deaths). A big challenge will be the fact that many of the original characters have been killed off, making it difficult to keep fans vested in the group’s overall well-being. Sure, new heroes and villains can be introduced at any time in this dystopian world, especially when they’re drawn from Robert Kirkman’s source material. But doing so is a delicate balance and sometimes even iconic characters (i.e. Michonne) are a labor to get fans to care about.
I’d also argue that pacing has also always been an issue on the show, with both Darabont and Mazzara at the helm. During Darabont’s tenure, the second season dragged along as the group searched for missing child Sophia, while camped out at a farm. Many viewers wondered just how long the show would spend searching for Sophia and why there wasn’t any action.
And now in the second half of the third season, under Mazzara’s watch, the prison backdrop has become a somewhat trite, serving as an place of endless conversations before Rick Grime’s inevitable showdown with Woodbury and The Governor.
The fourth season of The Walking Dead will presumably kick off some time in the Fall, but not before the last 4 episodes of Season 3 air in the next few weeks.