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Will Replacing Gimple as the Show Runner Save the Walking Dead in Season 9?

Updated on January 14, 2018
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Jennifer Branton is a nerd by trade most often writing about books and video games. She has a BA in Journalism from Lewis University

The Parade Of Show Runners

Recently announced, AMC will again be replacing the show runner for its flagship series The Walking Dead. Scott Gimple, with the show since Season Three, is said to be replaced by Angela Kang who has served as a writer and story editor since Season Two. Gimple will be moved to a newly created position according to AMC as Chief Content Office and will also be involved with the spin off series Fear The Walking Dead.

Where there is no question about the decline of the series in ratings as it eased into its latest season, The Walking Dead has been renewed for another season next year.

Fans are quick to blame this seasons poor ratings and steady decline on Soctt Gimple, but is poor writing and the killing off of major characters really to blame for the fall off of viewership?

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AMC is replacing show runners again with the promotion of Angela Kang, who has served as a story editor and writer for the show since Season Two.

No Characters Are Safe

Reader of the comics that the series is based on or not, The Walking Dead has broken away from its origin story enough that not everything that has happened on the show is cannon by the eight season. Characters have been created, swapped roles and been composites, or in the case of former fan favorites like Daryl Dixon, created for the show.

With Season Six finale/ Season Seven departures of characters like Glen and Abraham, many fans were far from forgiving about the level of brutality that came with the Negan story line. Some never returned with the Season Six after one of the longest stalls of the story since the days on the farm where an entire season was a virtual snooze fest as we geared up for All Out War.

I didn't so much mind the Glen fake out that came with Dumpster Gate, but when his death finally came in the series, I was tired of the whole "Who Shot Mr Burns" play up with leaked footage of every other character on the series taking the fatal blow from Lucille to keep fans interested for an entire year before the next seasons premier.

I know that this was one of the most defining moments from both Issue and Episode 100, the show episode perfectly inline with when Glen died from a brutal attack by Negan in the graphic novel. Episode 100 turned a lot of stomachs, and was artsy in its decline of Rick's mental health, but I really didn't feel anything.

Former seasons of the show when someone important got the ax, there was always some great writing or reference to past story involving that character. Something was learned, fans weep along with their friends on screen. "The Grove" episode anyone?

Even smaller characters got a beautiful last moment on screen or did something really important in their death.

For all those that we really cared about losing in beautiful and fitting tributes on screen, there has always been its share of botched onscreen deaths that did nothing but to thin out heard and give more screen time to bigger characters.

I could hardly care when we lost people like Beth, or Lori who added nothing to the cohesive feel of the show. Even Andrea, who paled in comparison to comic counterpart when it was decided that Michonne would be the love interest for Rick and a lot of the Andrea story. Onscreen Andrea was just blah.

In eight seasons of deaths of characters I care about or not, The Walking Dead has lost all shock value.

In Season Eight The Walking Dead has lost all shock value.

Uninteresting Story

For two seasons, we have been teased with finding Negan and Rick was going to kill him. Or he isn't. But maybe he is going to kill him.

This flip flopping of Rick may be to tease out having Negan, who is still alive in the current issues of the graphic novels, by the way, in the season that has been built with one objective: Finding and Killing Negan. This is as interesting as that one time Rick became a farmer at the prison.

Season Six and Seven spent so much time showing the "meantime" in other communities, by the time everyone had banded around the idea of bringing down Negan, it took less than an episode to get everyone in the field and mobilize.

That speech of all the Generals of communities including Maggie, Rick, and King Ezekiel might be the last interesting point in the entire season.

And then we what...

No one knows, the next few episodes just dragged on. Eventually they find Negan time after time after taking out many of the outposts. No one but Negan has to die, Rick says but they immediately begin to kill everyone that isn't Negan and when they do see Negan, by God let's make sure he can make a speech himself and walk away. How many times could they have either captured or killed him by now?

What are we stretching this out for exactly? If the show follows the comics, then Negan lives anyway and is taken captive for a number of years.

It's not like we need this huge build up to what, haul him back to the cell that Morgan built or keep Negan in one of the other allied communities. Speaking of other communities, what exactly is with the addition of the Junkyard Group on the show, or as I call them The Garbage People? Oceanside was pulled in early, just to have a reason to either have the most uninteresting character on the show, Tara, put on a solo adventure where she came across the guns. Will The Garbage People have any later significance to the show? Is there a reason Rick has gone over there to have the same result of being captive now twice?

The show overall, in my opinion has come to paint itself into a corner. Early seasons were about how to survive the monsters. They have overcome that. The next lesson was how to build a community again. They have done that. After either killing or not killing Negan there is no more clear objective and the television series either needs to continue off on its own and bypass the graphic novels or just stop all together.



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The Walking Dead needs to stop stalling and either branch off into its own story line and bypass the current graphic novel or just stop all together.

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A Long Road

Suggested by some fans, maybe the over-saturation of The Walking Dead in the years since Fear The Walking Dead has been on the market is what is slowing the main show to a halt. As where there was promised eventual overlap in the form of at least Morgan going on to the other show in some form, there is the conventions, the merchandising, new graphic novels to read. There isn't an escape from the show between seasons and when you are already bitter from another lackluster season that dragged on for what feels like forever with no advancing in the plot to either kill or not kill Negan, main characters flipflopping every week if they are pro or against killing Saviors and what always got me the long ranting and strange dialogue like everyone was performing a stage play and stepped outside the action to have a moment to have a soliloquy and break the fourth wall. It is beyond annoying.

I understand the strange Elizabethan dialogue with Ezekiel, but why is everyone else talking like they suddenly had all their education to this point drained out of them by the New World's gore fest?

As for actual walkers on the show, it is unclear if its the writers or a sign of the times but the toned down violence and less and less frequency of zombies in the later seasons is notable. It makes sense that with less and less people in the world that there isn't anyone left to turn and zombies from the earlier seasons have been dispatched or rotted away by now. Season Eight has been focused on the violence between the Saviors and other groups but going from two seasons with too much dialogue about killing everyone to the dialogue free run and shoot of Season Eight where you can't even tell who is on what side or what is even going on on the screen anymore is a turn off to fans as well.

I only casually watched a few episodes of this season in fast forward only to stop on the few moments of familiar faces going back and forth on the morality of if they should kill Negan or whatever only to let him get away once again to Hench another day a la Dr Claw.

If Angela Kang can restore some sort of sense of purpose to the show again, it will be yet to be seen in Season Nine.

Season Nine needs to wrap up some of the loose ends like if Maggie is going to have the baby or not. How much time has passed now since Glen's death and she still isn't showing? It needs to put some sort of perspective on these weird Lost style flash forwards and flash sideways. Has all these weird artsy shots been about the death of Carl? Does anyone even care about the loss of Carl?

The last few seasons of The Walking Dead keep promising to resolve some of the issues from the graphic novels that they hint at but haven't exactly pulled the trigger if they are going to be on the show or not.

I would like to see Kang give a Season Nine that does the time jump as foreseen by current issues of the comic, but not this whole starting over montage as we got at the prison to cover up how much time has actually passed.

I would like to know if those shots of Rick going to the festival are actually something from a future season or just a fever dream or something as we now know the flashes of Carl had to be imagined as he is reportedly dead in the second half of Season Eight.

I hope that Angela Kang offers some sort of payoff for all the fans that still have hung on or occasionally tune in to see if the show has anywhere to go left.

To see former Sunday night must watch show watered down to this unwatchable dribble is disappointing at best. Perhaps the removal of Scott Gimple was exactly what the show needs.

Season Eight returns February 25,2018.

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