On the outside, The Walking Dead seemingly has it all. A legion of fans rabid for more, lots of love from the hottest network in the business (AMC), and some of the loudest buzz in the industry thanks in part to a knock-your-socks-off trailer that just premiered at Comic-Con.
But behind the scenes—as is often the case with seemingly "perfect" marriages—things are a little rocky. After Season 1 wrapped, there was some drama concerning the show's writing staff (everybody was sort of fired and then sort of rehired). Now, series showrunner, producer, and director Frank Darabont—the man responsible for bringing a zombie drama to television—has abruptly stepped down from his post, according to Deadline Hollywood. Darabont had shown nothing but genuine excitement over being part of the show, which makes his exit even more puzzling.
UPDATE: Glen Mazzara, who wrote an episode for the first season and joined the show full time for season 2, will take over showrunning duties. Mazzara previously worked on The Shield.
The transition to TV was apparently a bit tough for Darabont, who made his name in the movie business; his director credits include The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and The Mist. Making television is much more regimented than making feature films, and with an expanded 13-episode second season currently in production (the first season was only six episodes long), it may have been too much for poor old Frank.
It's unclear how this personnel change will affect the show as a whole, but I wouldn't worry too much. Though Darabont's touch was all over The Walking Dead's incredible pilot episode (the series' best by far), I'm pretty confident that the show's tone and feel is already set and will lumber on without impediment, like a horde of undead converging on a brain farm. Plus, there's still a chance that Darabont will stay on-board in some capacity—not to mention that Gale Anne Hurd (producer) and Robert Kirkman (producer, author of the comics the show is based on) are still around.
Retain the spirit and characters of the comics, show us some zombies getting their skulls crushed as if they're rotten watermelons, and make it scary. That's all we ask.
The Walking Dead returns for Season 2 on October 16, with or without Mr. Darabont.