Everyone knows it's cool to be the first to say your favorite show has gone on too long, or has jumped the shark in making ridiculous efforts to keep itself fresh. The worst case scenario for TV producers and show runners alike is fans proclaiming that a show has milked its own premise for all it's worth, and has nothing left to do but retread its own material over and over. No show has this complaint leveled at it more than The Walking Dead, with season 6 set to be a make it or break it moment for the surprisingly popular zombie franchise.
I've heard complaints that The Walking Dead has become a simple tour of misery, with character arcs and hopes being brought up and shot down in an attempt to fabricate drama. You'd think that would be a death nell for The Walking Dead, but with season 6 on it's way, that clearly isn't the case. In fact, with the upcoming spin-off Fear the Walking Dead and the continuation of The Walking Dead videogames by Telltale, the brand is actually becoming a little crowded. With so many iterations of a premise that basically boils down to "oh no zombies", we should ask ourselves if The Walking Dead Season 6 is in danger of being muscled out by other products it's birthed.
Fear the Walking Dead
I always feel they could have worked up a slightly less redundant title for a Walking Dead spin-off. Of course I'm going to fear the walking dead! You don't need to remind me! This project has been reasonably quiet in it's production, but this slightly enigmatic promo gave us a hint of what's to come.
Many people have already made this observation, but I'm seriously doubting that this young Johnny Depp lookalike is actually running from walkers. He looks like he's just been caught in the act with the prom queen and is being chased by her jock boyfriend and or dad with a shotgun. The sound design should instead involve Blink 182 and a voice over explaining "and that's how I started the craziest summer ever!"
To give Fear the Walking Dead some credit, it is at least taking off from a place The Walking Dead ignored, that being the initial outbreak of a zombie apocalypse. Whether viewers will flock the this premise, we'll have to wait and see, but Fear does seem to have the edge over The Walking Dead in that it's simply showcasing something new.
Michonne: A Telltale Games Mini-Series
This is where The Walking Dead as an entertainment institution really gets ambitious. So far, the Walking Dead games by Telltale have kept strictly to their own continuity, and in my opinion, blown the show out the water because of it. These games are now explicitly infringing on the canon of the TV show by basing a mini-series around fan favorite, and likely most videogamey of the cast, Michonne. Yes, season one of the Telltale games used Glenn briefly, but this is the first time the games seem to be fully employing the same comic elements as the show. While I love the in-game design of Michonne, I'm not sure how Telltale will fare in leaving behind its original characters.
Whether any of these expansions of the Walking Dead brand actually work, it seems undoubtedly set to get rather crowded. Is The Walking Dead Season 6 under threat from other iterations of it's own mythos? Only time will tell, as this coming year unleashes multiple stories onto us. Either it will be too much for fans to take, your they will lap it up gladly!