The Week in TV: AMC Officially Tired of Things Like "Viewers" and "Feelings"
You want zombies? You'll get 'em. Eventually. This was the week in TV Land:
• AMC's been on the ropes recently when it comes to audience relations: Prolonged negotiations for Mad Men pushed the drama's return to 2012, they barely avoided a similar blow-up for Breaking Bad, and they made the mistake of pretending that The Killing was a good show. Apparently, someone at the network is a glutton for punishment, or maybe they're just curious how annoyed viewers can get and still tune in. The network's biggest new show from the past year, The Walking Dead, will see its second season split into two halves. The first seven episodes will air this year, while the final six will premiere in mid-February. I'm at a loss for why this is a good idea, either promotionally or financially. What does the network gain by splitting up the series? Why risk losing viewers -- or worse, boring them -- with such a gap? Whatever.
In other AMC news, the network has picked up a pair of reality series that they're adorably calling "docu-stories," which is like calling porn "adult entertainment": No one's fooled, and you just look dumb for trying to class up something cheap. One of them is Secret Stash, the world's latest entry in the People Yelling at Garbage sub-genre that's brought us shows like Storage Wars, Pawn Stars and more. Secret Stash will be executive produced by Kevin Smith and set in his Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash comic book store, meaning you can watch people argue over which X-Man would give the best blowjob without having to go to a comic book store to do it. Their other new show is JJK Security, about a "private security company in rural Georgia" whose operatives cover everything from P.I. work to neighborhood patrols to, one hopes, Jason Bourne-level assassinations. Secret Stash hits screens early 2012, while JJK debuts that fall.
• HBO is closing in on a pilot pickup for The Corrections, based on Jonathan Franzen's 2001 novel that's not good enough for Oprah fans. The adaptation is co-written by Franzen and Noah Baumbach, with Baumbach attached to direct and both of them set to produce alongside Scott Rudin. Baumbach's debut film was 1995's Kicking and Screaming, a bittersweet look at postgraduate existential boredom (it's better than it sounds, really), but his later works include co-authoring Wes Anderson's bitter pill The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou and helming almost totally unwatchable hate-fucks like Margot at the Wedding. In other words, he's gonna make Franzen's novel as depressing as possible, which sounds like a wonderful way to spend your Sunday nights with HBO.
• Bringing an end to its three-season run, TNT has canceled Hawthorne, which they style in ads as HawthoRNe, just in case you didn't realize she was a nurse or you don't feel like obeying the basic laws of language that bind us together as a people. The third-season finale nabbed 3.6 million viewers, which is nothing to sneeze at in cable -- it's more than Mad Men gets, hands down -- but there were probably cost issues that made a further commitment impossible. (I don't know what Jada Pinkett-Smith makes, but there are probably cheaper actresses.) With The Closer on its way out and Saving Grace a fading memory, TNT is running out of spunky women just trying to do their thing in a man's world, man. Maybe they need a new theme?
• In sitcom casting news: David Cross is joining the ranks of Modern Family, where he'll play a city council member who butts heads with Claire as she gets involved with local politics. The best part of this story is that The Hollywood Reporter referred to Cross as "the Running Wilde actor," as if Arrested Development and Mr. Show never happened. Come on, THR. Let's not be crazy here. Everyone knows Cross's most famous role was Small Soldiers.
Meanwhile, Judy Greer -- also of Arrested Development, weirdly enough -- has signed to appear in the upcoming season of Two and a Half Men, which is itself the Arrested Development of bad sitcoms and bowling shirts. Greer will play Ashton Kutcher's estranged wife, who's in the process of divorcing him when the season kicks off. Say goodbye to these, Ashton!
• Showtime announced recently that they're working on a series adaptation of Under the Dome, Stephen King's 2009 novel about a Maine town suddenly trapped under a mysterious force field. (This is where you say, "Simpsons did it ugh", and move on.) The project's still in the early stages -- there isn't even a writer yet -- but it's a nice high-profile grab for Showtime. It also has to feel nice for King, whose The Dark Tower was set to become an ambitious series of adaptations across film and TV before that project crumbled a few weeks back. It's interesting to see more literary properties translated to premium TV series, like this or The Walking Dead. If you do it right, you set up an epic world to run around in but still give yourself enough structure so you don't wind up spinning your wheels, e.g., the second season of Lost. Here's hoping Showtime makes this one work.