It’s an odd time to be writing, or writing about, scripted TV drama. The accepted wisdom is out of the window and multiple new models seem to be in play. Netflix seem to be establishing a default of two seasons or one split season as the minimum they’ll give a show. The CW are block renewing everything in a manner which is immensely pleasing to fans. WGN America just one of several companies pulling out of scripted drama altogether, which, this week, cost us the acclaimed and criminally under-represented outside the US, Underground.
And then there’s AMC. AMC have one of the largest shows in the world with The Walking Dead, had the same with Mad Men and are clearly looking to invest further in scripted shows. This week, THR report that they’ve ordered writers rooms assembled for three new shows. The first, NOS4R2, is based on Joe Hill’s acclaimed novel and comes from Fear The Walking Dead‘s Jami O’Brien. Here’s the premise;
…centers on Victoria McQueen, a woman who has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. Charles Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides, transporting them to an astonishing — and terrifying — playground of amusements he calls “Christmasland.” Vic, with her gift, is the only one able to track the superhuman Manx. But finding him is the easy part. Defeating Manx and rescuing his victims will take everything Vic’s got and nearly kill her in the process. Hill will executive produce with O’Brien. AMC Studios and Tornante will co-produce.
The second is Pandora, from MI: 5 (Spooks to you and me) and Humans producers Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley. Here’s the premise:
a global mystery-thriller following three converging storylines as ordinary individuals try to piece together dark secrets leaking out into the world after advanced malware dismantles encryption across the internet. Vincent and Brackley will exec produce with Jane Featherstone, Dan Isaacs and Christopher Fry of Sister Pictures. AMC Studios will produce.
Finally there’s Silent History, adapted from Eli Horowitz’s award-winning app and novel by Claire Carré and Charles Spano (Embers). The premise:
… tells the story of a generation of unusual children — born without the ability to create or comprehend language, but with other surprising skills of their own. As the condition spreads to epidemic levels, theories form and society is faced with how to deal with this new evolution of human. Silent History plays on the fears of technology and the threat of “the other,” shaking up our assumptions about who we are and how we should live. Owen Shiflett is attached to produce the project, which hails from AMC Studios.
Basically what AMC are doing here is working with writers they know and trust to lay out an entire possible season before giving the order for it. It’s basically Schrodinger’s Pilot Episodes, and it’s a really interesting idea that seems to speak directly to the mid-season slump lots of long form shows (COUGHLostCOUGH) suffer from. Will it work? We don’t know, but we’d bet at least two of those shows, Silent History and NOS4R2 will be picked up. And, if Pandora has more to it than that surprisingly generic premise, odds are that too. We’ll keep an eye out and let you know what makes it, when and if it does.