It isn’t very often that one can celebrate a show not being picked up by a major television network, but in The Walking Dead’s case, fans should breathe a sigh of relief that the first network passed.
Before AMC’s mammoth hit started breaking television ratings records, the project was offered to NBC. At the time, showrunner Frank Darabont already had a deal in place with them, but their reaction to it wasn’t exactly the warmest. In a recent interview with Variety, Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd recalls the conversation they had at the time.
“Do there have to be zombies [in it].” was their first response. After it was laid out how integral the zombies were to a show called The Walking Dead, the network then asked about a possible procedural format, where two main characters would “solve a zombie crime of the week,” she said.
The good news is that idea was voted down, which allowed Darabont to seek out AMC for the project, and the rest is history. NBC didn’t quite get that while the show is based around the zombie apocalypse, they aren’t the heart of the show. That honor rests in the show’s well-developed characters, which Hurd pointed out later in the interview.
“it’s not about the zombies it’s about the humans. What attracted me to [Robert Kirkman’s] comic-book series is that it is a story about characters on a journey into this new world, and constantly trying to figure out not only how to survive but what’s important to them, and some characters give up, some characters commit suicide, and they are constantly evolving, they are constantly meeting new characters; they have to determine friend or foe, and very quickly we realize that it is not the zombies you have to be afraid of, it’s the other humans,” she said.
Fans should be thankful that it didn’t turn into just another Law and Order spinoff with the undead.