You want to know the secret to The Walking Dead's success? No, it's not all the zombie-bashing or Daryl Dixon being well, Daryl Dixon. It's because each character is given enough screen time to allow them to fully develop - which is something Hollywood could well do with taking note of.
This is the theory of TV business writer, Merrill Barr, who believes TWD does it better because its episodes focus on just a few characters, instead cramming everybody into each episode and creating character overload.
Here's what he has to say:
Remember “Clear,” that amazing Walking Dead episode from season three that featured Lennie James delivering a career defining performance? Remember who was in that episode? It was Rick, Carl and Michonne, that’s it. And every time you thought the episode was finally going to cut back to the camp – as that’s how viewers have been trained to watch ensemble series – it never did. We spent an entire episode with a fraction of the cast and it ended up being the best episode of the series to date.
He's right in saying "Clear" was one of the best Walking Dead episodes we've had. It allowed the audience to focus on just one story, and in the process brought us closer to the characters at the heart of the action.
Allowing a series the ability to slow down and hang out gives the audience a chance to do the same. Suddenly, a viewer isn't trying to remember the arcs and back stories of ten characters, they’re trying to remember it for three.
The Walking Dead continues to break ratings records so AMC is clearly doing something right. But is it the character development or the zombie slaughter that keeps viewers hooked? My guess is it's a bit of both.
What do you think is the secret to The Walking Dead's success?