AMC's Spin-Off Syndrome. Why Walking Dead & Breaking Bad Spin-Offs may not be a good idea.

It’s a little-known fact that I enjoy television shows.  The reason not many people know that is because unlike the vast majority of people I don’t feel the need to social network about every show I watch (upto and including spoilers for people who haven’t watched the show yet) and I talk to very few people about the television I watch.  I like television because most of it in this era is based on captivating storylines as opposed to when I was in my early 20s (I am 32 now) and everything was about reality television shows starring people who should not in any way shape or form be famous whatsoever:

Yeah, that guy.

Yeah, that guy.

I was glad to see the resurgence of the “storyline” when shows such as Dexter, Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, and others came to prominence.  In the cases where they were based on novels, for the most part I have read the novels because I believe we should read things that are more than 140 characters.  I feel like “more intelligent” television (if you can call anything on TV intelligent) is a good thing, even more if it compels you to read an 800 page book (Game of Thrones, anyone) and exercise your mind.  The problem is a lot of people are trend-whores and I feel like the hot streak of originality might soon be coming to an end starting with two announcements by the AMC channel this month.

Above:  Bob Odenkirk will reprise his role as Saul Goodman in an upcoming Breaking Bad spin-off centered around his character.

Above:  Bob Odenkirk will reprise his role as Saul Goodman in an upcoming Breaking Bad spin-off centered around his character.

With Breaking Bad coming to a close this year, it sounds like creator Vince Gilligan and Sony have come to terms on the creation of a new spin-off series centered and focused around sleazy attorney Saul Goodman entitled “Better Call Saul.”  While Goodman works as a character on Breaking Bad, can a show where he is the focal point really generate that much interest?  I don’t get excited for anything, and I can’t see multiple seasons of a show centered on a scumbag lawyer keeping it that way.  I am not saying I hate the Goodman character in any way, but often times supporting characters are in fact “just that.”  Breaking Bad is an excellent television series, but would it be better to just end than to attempt to fumble around with a spin-off?  In my opinion this cheapens it, kind of like how American Pie was a decent stand-alone until they made like 20 more of them and ran all of the jokes in the ground to the point that even the original which was once funny is completely and utterly unwatchable.

American Pie Presents Band Camp (2005).png

The only reason that they keep making American Pie movies is because without them Eugene Levy would have nothing to do with his life and probably off himself, which come to think about it wouldn’t really be a bad thing at all.  Still, if you want to laugh at someone with the last name Levy, our Interview with Bob Levy on this very show (Asked Episode 170) is vastly superior and vastly more entertaining than any of the American Pie films.

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Getting back on track here, however, AMC didn’t stop with a Saul Goodman spin-off when it was announced earlier this week that a Walking Dead spin-off was also in the works.  Set to premiere in 2015, this spin-off will be in the exact same universe as The Walking Dead only featuring an entirely separate cast of characters… Umm… that sounds to me like you described the premise of the Telltale Games video game available on X-Box 360 and Playstation 3 (which will also have a sequel available this fall).

The Walking Dead videogame by Telltale games (not to be confused with the awful "Survival Instinct" game), follows the stories of Lee Everett (shown above) & a little girl named Clementine trying to survive after the zombie apocalypse.

The Walking Dead videogame by Telltale games (not to be confused with the awful "Survival Instinct" game), follows the stories of Lee Everett (shown above) & a little girl named Clementine trying to survive after the zombie apocalypse.

And given that video game systems are in virtually every home in North America nowadays (even if they aren't the game is also available on computers and iOS), that was a cool method of delivery for an expanded Walking Dead universe.  Of course those who want an expanded universe also could check out the two Walking Dead Novels:  “Rise of the Governor” and “The Road to Woodbury,” which are both excellent reads and not particularly long or difficult novels to get through for those people who don’t have the attention span for words. 

An "expanded universe" for the Walking Dead already exists, but since it involves using the brain instead of using a hashtag most people don't care.

An "expanded universe" for the Walking Dead already exists, but since it involves using the brain instead of using a hashtag most people don't care.

And then of course there is the fact The Walking Dead started off as a comic book series to begin with that is actually much darker, much more twisted, and much more interesting than the television series to begin with – and that isn’t me knocking the television series because I enjoyed the Walking Dead television show up until they spent almost all of the second season of it on a farm arguing gun control in the middle of a zombie apocalypse.  Still with so much expanded content out there already, how much is “too much?”  Do we really need a second show?

Women need more Norman Reedus to fantasize about... because y'know... zombie apocalypses are the right time to be turned on and ready to bang.

Women need more Norman Reedus to fantasize about... because y'know... zombie apocalypses are the right time to be turned on and ready to bang.

Apparently we do, because maybe we could cast some men on it women want to nail which is the only reason most of them even watch the show because they have a fascination with Norman Reedus (who portrays Daryl Dixon on the show).  They also immediately turn their noses up at the entire rest of the Walking Dead universe (novels, comic books, video games) because “Daryl doesn’t exist in them.”  So what?  I thought we were trying to make compelling storylines here, not spank-tank material for you lonely spinsters out there!  By the way, don’t you fan-girls dare even come at me with this garbage unless you’ve watched Reedus’ best and most-iconic role in the movie The Boondock Saints which is vastly superior to anything he does in the Walking Dead television series.  The point is there is already enough spin-off material without the Robert Kirkman splintering off a new television show for those of you that can’t be bothered to pick up a book.  You people annoy me.  You’re the ones that cause me to have my trending topics set to “Zimbabwe” every time a new episode of a television show is on because you have to trend that somebody died on it to ruin it for the people not watching it in real-time.  And I hate you, so in response to my hatred of all of you here is a photo of Glenn’s possible future in the Walking Dead because the majority of you aren’t going to read the comic books anyway (and no he is not the one in the leather jacket).

We're even now.

We're even now.

While I like shows like Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, I don’t see the need to continue to produce spin-offs because if done wrong it won’t come off as “interesting” or “intriguing” but just as “greedy” and I believe AMC’s big experiment here is to see how many mindless Twitter-Society Drones will watch anything that has the franchise names on it.  Eventually that is going to lead to the same mindless unoriginality that the rest of Hollywood has when it comes to movies which leads to sequels when sequels don’t need to be made and reboots when reboots don’t need to be made.  Speaking of which I am sure when it comes to television they will attempt to remake Knight Rider at least 6 more times before I die, and all of them will fail.  Still rather than expand on licenses in a desperate attempt to keep them going, I’d rather these intelligent and talented people work on something new and different because history has proven that television spin-offs are never as successful as the original and this just comes off as AMC being unwilling to try something new.  The worst part is if these spin-off shows are successful it is likely that just about every other popular television show will follow suit and decide to make nothing but spin-offs of what they're doing already instead of coming up with something all-new and all-different.  Oh well, I guess they aren’t trying to appeal to the ones with brains, just the unintelligent, unwashed masses willing to part with their time and money the easiest.  And that’s what’s best for business.