What the Heck Is Going On at AMC?


On Tuesday, AMC canceled The Killing—again—after what many people considered to be an improved third season. Yesterday, the network announced that it's moving forward with a previously proposed, Saul Goodman-centric Breaking Bad spin-off (which is apparently being set up as a prequel). Two days, two mostly predictable bits of news from one of the more unpredictable cable channels around. And yet, all I keep wondering is, what in the heck is actually going on at AMC right now?

After the debuts of Mad Men (2007) and Breaking Bad (2008), AMC was quickly labeled a new power player in cable TV, but it seems clear by now that either A.) AMC executives have a different vision for what they want the channel to be, or B.) those execs really don't know what they're doing. In case you've forgotten, here's what AMC's been up to in last few years:

– Engaging in prolonged and oftentimes public contract negotiations with Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner and Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan

Dragging its feet on a Season 3 renewal for Hell on Wheels because of various production issues

– Canceling The Killing after Season 2, then reviving it, only to now kill it again.

– More or less firing yet another Walking Dead showrunner by parting ways with Glen Mazzara, the guy who righted the series' ship after the very public ousting of Frank Darabont in 2011, seemingly over budget issues.

– Investing a whole lot of schedule real estate, if not money, in cheap unscripted programming like Small Town SecurityFreakshowComic Book Men, and The Pitch, as well as post-show chat sessions for The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad, and the syndicated rights to CSI: Miami.

For a channel that once appeared to be positioning itself as the next HBO and the latest cable channel to dominate annual awards shows, that's a weird chain of events. And looking forward isn't such a promising exercise. The ratings for Low Winter Sun are not good, even with the monster Breaking Bad lead-in; they're sub-Killing level. We're talking Rubicon ratings here, folks. Pretend that Low Winter Sun gets canceled, joining The Killing on the scrap heap. Breaking Bad will be over forever in three weeks, and Mad Men is set to wrap things up for good in less than a year. That means, come September 2014, four of the shows AMC aired on Sunday nights just one calendar year earlier will all be gone. 

If you're keeping score at home, that leaves AMC with a handful of reality programs, Hell on Wheels, the now-in-development Better Call Saul, a few interesting upcoming series (Turn and Halt & Catch Fire), and zombie king The Walking Dead. The reality programs do well enough to survive, partially because AMC needs the content. Hell on Wheels is a steady performer and it's doing well on Saturdays, but it's no longer part of AMC's prestige night of scheduling. Better Call Saul is just as likely to be a fandom-exploding misfire as it is a thriving success, and even then, it's not going to be Breaking Bad 2.0. And the new shows seem interesting on paper—Halt & Catch Fire stars Lee Pace and examines the 1980s tech boom; Turn is about the American Revolution—but AMC's decision-making and development in the years since Breaking Bad's debut don't instill me with much confidence. So really and truly, that leaves the network with The Walking Dead, which is literally the best property to be left with in this kind of situation. It's a ratings behemoth, a social media powerhouse, and a show where the "quality" doesn't matter to a large chunk of the audience. 

Theoretically, AMC can ride out the post-Mad Men and post-Breaking Bad era almost exclusively on the decaying shoulders of The Walking Dead. But immediately jumping into a BrBa spin-off is only going to bring on the unfair comparisons, possibly further damaging the network's brand in the future. Not every situation is the same, but it's telling that we haven't seen HBO try to spin off its big properties, nor have we seen such a tactic at FX. The worst part of this is knowing that, if Better Call Saul or the other new shows also fail, AMC could possibly even shuffle toward a Walking Dead spin-off. Walking Dead: Miami

In general, the network's development strategy hasn't, from the outside, seemed particularly great. Mad MenBreaking Bad, and The Walking Dead were all developed with other networks or channels and mind, only for their respective creative forces to get desperate and try their luck at the little channel that could, or perhaps wanted to. So really, AMC kind of lucked into them. I don't want to take away from the executives who gave those shows the greenlight, but it's not like AMC developed them from opening pitch to pilot in the traditional fashion. Since then, the network has become a smorgasbord of late-aughts cable television tropes. Male anti-heroes? Check. Period pieces? Got 'em in spades. "We need to do our Deadwood!" "Now we need to do our Wire!" 

Moreover, the public spats with various well-respected producers, particularly with regard to money and control, have likely already damaged AMC's reputation among the people who should matter the most to them: Hollywood talent. If you're an established or up-and-coming writer or producer who's turning to television in 2013—the kind who has fascinating ideas that don't fit into the current economics of Hollywood's more global-focused blockbuster system—why would you pitch to AMC, except as a last-ditch effort? You already know they're willing to let negotiations get out, and to get at least somewhat ugly. That's not a good sign for you, Young Screenwriter With a Cool Idea. Low Winter Sun's Chris Mundy and Turn's Craig Silverstein are very solid writers, but their respective histories with Criminal Minds and Nikita aren't quite the same as Weiner and Gilligan coming from The Sopranos and The X-Files

To be fair, this kind of thing can happen. AMC certainly didn't expect to become the Next HBO almost overnight and suddenly, its choices were magnified. It's not easy to sustain Emmy-dominating programming, or to find the next populist smash, let alone to do both at the same time. Yet, that's also where AMC sort of went wrong, or at least found itself underprepared. Is the channel going to try to make more shows in the vein of The Walking Dead, which chase a bigger audience? Or does it want to keep producing lower-rated awards bait? Those things aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, but some idea of a strategy would be nice.

And for a shocking amount of time now, it's appeared as if AMC has no real idea of how it's going to sustain itself as a channel. With a couple of critical dynamos and the most successful cable show of all time on the schedule, they've had time to think about it. But now, time is running out. The network's new slogan, an attempt to put a vague-colored coat of paint on its slapdash strategy, is Something More. Unfortunately, that moniker already feels completely ironic. 


If you were an AMC exec, what would YOU be trying to do right now?

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I'm sorry to say that AMC is missing out on their viewers. I don't understand why they think their viewers are stupid. You've cancelled Rubicon which I thought was a smart series. And now you're thinking about canceling The Killing again... WOW, and maybe Low Winter Sun? Please KEEP THE KILLING AND LOW WINTER SUN! Two smart thoughtful and very entertaining series. By going backward to just movies is the Stupid move...
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The problem that AMC ran into with Rubicon is that it was what is known as "high IQ TV", meaning that you have to be smart to get it and enjoy it. You see the same thing with CBS's The Big Bang Theory, which a lot of mouth breathers resent because they don't understand the math/science references even when they're explained.
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In addition to period dramas, I think AMC should explore sci-fi and horror for potential drama series. Even a prehistoric drama -- sounds crazy, but if done right, it would be a fascinating example of story and acting with virtually no dialogue (and of course, the whole irony of Neanderthals being no less evolved than humans of today).
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To me, AMC's new "Something More" slogan feels like a lazy-man's version of the "Be More" slogan that PBS has been using for a decade.
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AMC got caught up in the critical acclaim of Breaking Bad and the ratings success of The Walking Dead and have now apparently lowered their standards. A lot.
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I cringed when you said about Low Winter Sun's prospects, "We're talking Rubicon ratings here, folks." Not because of LWS (it's meh...), but because Rubicon was an outstanding program, the kind of thing that I want to see more of from AMC. I still haven't forgiven them for cancelling that show and I see I'm not alone.
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While not at the same level as AMC, it's interesting to note that both Showtime and HBO aren't thriving as much as they once were either, particularly when it comes to critical acclaim.

There's not a single drama on Showtime at the moment, perhaps other than Shameless, that looks like it will go on for another three plus years (which is ironic since that's there longest running drama. Dexter's final season has left a lot of people cold. I quite enjoy Homeland, and am eagerly anticipating season three, but the backlash from viewers about season two was quite strong, don't know how long it can last if it continues to slide down in quality from a critical perspective (although Dexter did, so who knows?). I like Ray Donovan too, but I was surprised by its early renewal. Are the ratings that great for this? I know its reception has been mixed so this one is up in the air, but unless it does something amazing next season and generates a lot more buzz I can't see it lasting.

As for the comedy side of things on Showtime, while I enjoy Californication, it hasn't aged well. Nurse Jackie seems to be a bit of a sleeper hit, I don't watch it, but I think it has gained a little more praise as its continued, but again, there's not much buzz there. One good think about Showtime though (if you see it as a goof thing) is that its obvious that shows that get the ratings for them, stay on the air, seemingly regardless of declining quality if you look at past shows like Weeds. I don't watch Episodes, Web Therapy or House of Lies, but other then Episodes which at least gets buzz around Emmy time, there's little discussion or critical praise for these shows.

Coming up, Masters of Sex looks like a potential hit for the network, but I'm worried about its content and how it will be perceived by the media. Cable's already considered television with boobies, and I'd want Masters of Sex to be something more than that, but I'm not sure if it can. Penny Dreadful looks good, but seems off-brand for Showtime. The Affair and Trending Now looked average from their loglines, but big names have been drawn to these projects so hopefully it means there's some substance to them. While I know The Vatican is based in modern times, I thought Showtime would have learnt from The Tudors and The Borgias that interest in those sorts of institutions and societies isn't all that big, and it looks like it'll be expensive to make...

What does everyone else think about the future of Showtime?
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As for HBO, other than Game of Thrones (it's own The Walking Dead) it hasn't got all that much doing great things for the network.

True Blood and Treme's next seasons will be their last, leaving The Newsroom as its only other drama. It's gets a fait bit of buzz sure, but not for the right reasons.

On the comedy side of thing Eastbound & Down is also finishing up, and who knows when (or if) Curb Your Enthusiasm will be back. Veep gets good buzz around Emmy time too, much like Showtime's Episodes, but other then that, when do people hear about it? And then there's GIrls, which gets a fair amount of buzz too, but like The Newsroom, for all the wrong seasons.

HBO at least has a lot in development. The drama front seems a little scarce though, True Detective seems like the only potential hit and the only one going to series at this point in time. Ryan Murphy's Open may get some buzz, much like Masters of Sex, it'll be for the wrong reasons. There's little info on The Money and The Missionary but their loglines don't inspire. The Leftovers could be a big hit too, in the vain of The Walking Dead but minus the zombies, but it'll have to be good.
Westworld is intriguing, but I'm not sure how it'll work on HBO.

There are a lot of comedies in development too. Hello Ladies is the only one going to air thus far, and it doesn't look that that exciting to me. Getting On looks like HBO trying to copy Nurse Jackie. Silicon Valley looks a lot like the Amazon pilot Betas. Togetherness could be okay, but the premise is basic, so it'll have to be well written. Looking will garner similar attention to Open, and may be HBO's attempt as a funny Queer As Folk.

What does everyone else think about the future of HBO?
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I don't see Boardwalk Empire mentioned...Maybe I overlooked it.

I think HBO has a good outlook and I trust them to make good decisions. I'm looking forward to True Detectives and Hello Ladies.

I can't speak for Showtime, as I do not watch any of those shows. I tried to watch Dexter and lost interest around season 4/5.
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Wow, I cannot believe I forgot Boardwalk, since it started again this week and all. That in itself goes to show that its losing steam too.
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guess amc is slowly going back to it once use it was before breaking bad, mad men, walking dead, started.....which was what?
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American Movie Classics, which amounts to: who cares.
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Fx is the best right now, Justified has the best writing on TV by far!!! Once BrBa and Mad Men are gone I will be done with AMC unless Bob Odenkirk brings home the bacon. Also whats happening at Showtime, Dexter's final season is a turd and Homeland has the declined in quality. At least there is Shameless.
Hannibal needs to be on cable!!!
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Well this is good news then, because then they really should give The Killing a fourth season. :D
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bring back the killing :

https://www.change.org/petitions/bring-back-the-killing
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The network is called American Movie Classics, so what are they doing creating their own content anyways? I stopped watching Walking Dead at the end of the second season and was not interested in their other shows. Have the ratings of the network started to slip? I'm not sure if AMC has had a game plan as of late I just think the net execs got lucky when they went down this road to began with.
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AMC was originally just like Turner Classic Movies, with old movies commercial free. Then Ted Turner bought the MGM library, leaving AMC without much content. So, before Mad Men, AMC was down to showing more recent movies, but edited and with commercial breaks, like TBS, TNT, or any of a couple hundred stations.
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A&E = Arts and Entertainment
TBS = Tokyo Broadvasting System
TLC = The Learning Channel
MTV

Agreed. Networks change their tag lines as much as they do their programming in which most cases has to do with what their network initials stand for.
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Uhh.. the TBS in the US (that airs Conan) is Turner Broadcasting System.
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Ah yes. I was thinking of SPIKE tv, thats owned by Tokyo Broad..
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What are you smoking? Spike TV is owned by the Spike Cable Networks, Inc. subsidiary of Viacom Media Networks Entertainment Group, a unit of the Viacom Media Networks division of Viacom. Tokyo Broadcasting has no ownership of Spike TV. The only connection between the two is that Tokyo Broadcasting airs it's show MXC on Spike.
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They did it to themselves with Low Winter Sun, they advertised it to death and premiered it by forcing Breaking Bad fans to watch it so they could see the next week's promo. I was going to give it a try but when they said we had to watch it to see the promo I just instantly hated it and it sits in my DVR unwatched.
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AMC does seem to be making some bad decisions, for all the good they do with other shows. I'm not sure canceling The Killing (again) is a terrible thing, as it's become a bit stale despite the third season being the best by far. But Cory... why are these being called 'Reality programs'?
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What would you call them?
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Something else, like Dramas or something. Since these are on TV as well, it's not a leap to associating them with 'Reality TV' like Jersey Shore or something. My comment was not meant to be snide, by the way. It was a genuine question. For example, there's a reason for calling a certain type of show a 'procedural' in how the story works. I realize this is more referring to type of show than the story the show depicts, but still.
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If you were an AMC exec, what would YOU be trying to do right now?

Bring Thief of Thieves to air as quickly as possible, and continue to try and develop new original groundbreaking shows that place them squarely back in "walking dead territory".
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Renew Walking Dead, order Walking Dead: The Governor and Walking Dead:Morgan. Walking Dead matters here
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THen they can just change the network from AMC to TWD.
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They should not kill The Killing, they should let Mr B keep on building the railroad and let the dead keep on walking. That is what they should do. Too much change usually leaves us with garbage one year runs of bad shows. Or just give up all their shows to Netflix so we who love them can keep on watching the stuff that has become dear to us, Im tired of watching 10-15 new first episodes each season just to find the good, the few the watchable, just to get let down after one season because some people have no taste and loves to kill shows.
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AMC should try their hand at a proper comedy, or at least dramedy. There seems to be too big of a focus on stylized character pieces, period pieces, and other serious things. That, combined with their weird reality output, (and I like Comic Book Men) puts out an inconsistent tone with no middle ground.

Another thing they could try is focusing a bit more on genre shows, The Walking Dead is their biggest commercial success, so why not build a block or two around aliens, time travel, and all that good stuff?
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Time-travelling zombie-vampire-werewolf hybrids from beyond the stars: Start counting the money.
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Mazarra righted the sires?
Lol, don't tell it to anyone who watches the walking dead. The guy was a disaster for the show, and it will never completely heal from what he did to it
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What, no way. S3 was much better than S2. That's a common truth, right?
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Actually no. And let me explain why. The farm was not a place with lots of plot opportunities, so you can't compare it to the prison and woodbury. Despite that, the farm had its moments (Zombie Sophia oh my god!!!, Shane's death, the farm getting overrun), but overall I agree it was kinda boring. In my opinion the farm should last for half season and not a whole one. In season 3 however, they could have done miracles with what they had, but instead what did we have? Mazarra lining up the characters and randomly decide who to kill next with no apparent reason (Axel, Oscar, Andrea, Milton, Ben, Allen etc)
my point is, the prison could have been done way better, while the farm was as best as it could have been
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I think that is generally considered the case. I'm mixed himself, because the last half of episodes in S2 (from once Sophia was found) were quite good in my opinion, and at this stage in my memory S3 was much of a boring blur split between the prison and Woodbury.

Anyway, the amount people complained about S3 though almost surpassed the complaints about S2, so I'm not actually sure where majority of the fans sit on this one.
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The concept of golden handcuffs appears absent in AMC's hiring.
When one considers that mainstream channels are now engaging in productions of material that would, or should, suit cable better it has got to be something of a death knell for AMC to address. But instead all we hear is internal arguments over money, control etc. for the shows and staff it should've been nurturing or fighting to keep for additional projects. It'd seem that it's reliance on other agencies etc. to see out initial possible production ideas has turned into a self fulfilling prophecy of doom where it's burnt more bridges than made at all levels. And thus it's the big boys who've learnt to see those areas as opportunities and moved on in.
Scheduling, as everyone, but exec's know can help or hinder shows, Hell on Wheels being a prime example. Exec's should take a more open view of placement where there is not similar type material or behemoth shows at the same time.
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'If you're an established or up-and-coming writer or producer who's turning to television in 2013—the kind who has fascinating ideas that don't fit into the current economics of Hollywood's more global-focused blockbuster system—why would you pitch to AMC, except as a last-ditch effort?

Because you've just scared all the other 'Young Screenwriters With a Cool Idea' off by writing this article Cory, so thanks for that. *Quickly packs a suitcase full of spec-scripts, mostly Buffy fan-fiction, and heads for the AMC headquarters*
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If AMC can hold onto Matthew Weiner (Mad Men) and Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad) then it's very possible they can create other high quality series that are just as intelligent and fascinating as MM and BB. It's really about the creative vision and artistic control over the shows.... not the studio's individual decisions. If you can keep the ingredients that make these shows Great, then they should be just fine in creating other uniquely gifted material. I certainly hope they can, because AMC has done some AMAZING things since 2007, unlike any other channel out there. It's quite impressive.
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Hold onto? They almost drove both of them away and they DID get rid of Darabont! Breaking Bad was thisclose to moving to FX.
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I have no idea what AMC can do, but I know staying off the bad press for a while would be a good change. Stop firing showrunners. It just makes the network seem unstable. Especially with your biggest powerhouse show that already has a fanbase that LOVES to watch and then LOVES to hate what they just watched. Whatever the fun is in this.

Personally, I love the show for what it is. Guess I'm in that "meh, quality" category, but whatever. I just don't care as long as I am being entertained. And I love the show. I'd like to see more of that, big shows that are more for fun and characters than award show bait. I find those "critically acclaimed" shows to usually never be able to hold my attention. Personal preference.
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I'd like to see a Walking Dead: add name. It may right the wrongs of the original. I'd like sonething like: I Claudius- or a scifi epic, Westworld, Soylent Green or I am Legend. AMC pick those up! That said, dont mess with Hell on wheels!!! It rocks!
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Serious networks should stay away from that reality show bullsh*t. I personally hate the genre and couldn't care less about the people in it, it's cheap entertainment for idiots.

The best show AMC has at the moment is Hell on Wheels. I like Breaking Bad but it has run it's course and a Saul spinoff....really?? I like Saul in BrBa but as a show on it's own I'm not looking forward to it.

The Walking Dead is popular, why is a mystery to me (I think zombies are dumb and I know...the show is really about survival...but seriously, f*#! mankind) therefore I wouldn't be too upset if it got cancelled. But I understand it does well in the rating so keep it.

Mad Men is ok. I don't like period pieces if it's too recent so I'm not a big fan.

I always liked Rubicon and was very disappointed it wasn't renewed. These are the kind of show I expect from certain networks, not all that reality crap.
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I passionately hate the reality genre, too, but when something is super cheap to make and scores big ratings, it's a no-brainer for the executives to keep ordering them up. When all is said and done, they're in it to make money much more than to provide quality entertainment. If a televised execution show got blockbuster ratings, every channel would be scrambling to come up with their own version of one.

I'm with you on Rubicon. It took nearly its entire first (and only) season for me to even understand what it was all about, but I was really into it at the end and was equally disappointed when it got the axe.
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The reality tv does suck, but it brings in so much money and cost next to nothing compared to dramas, so networks rely on them.

I had so much hope for Hell on Wheels as a period drama because the network did such a great job with Mad Men with historical relevance and accuracy. For someone who went to Gettysburg College and studied under some of the top Civil War scholars, Hell on Wheels was a big disappointment. AMC could have done a much better job.

I think their main problem is that they really want to make a lot of money, but they don't want to spend any to make a good investment, so they push reality tv and argue over contracts. It is really killing them as a network.
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Yeah, I don't mind reality TV at all. But most of AMC's reality is hot trash.
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I agree with the following: 1) Reality shows generally suck -- AMC should avoid them like the plague that turns people into zombies.. 2) Rubicon needed another season to get moving; I was disappointed when it just dried up and blew away. I have only seen a few minutes of Hell on Wheels, and that is enough to make me want to catch up via Netflix.
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Yes! I agree. AMC should NEVER touch that Reality Show button. Fark that stuff... it's the most dumbed down, idiotic idea that TV has come up with EVER. Don't ruin our favorite channel!!!
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AMC got too good too fast on things it didn't earn and learned all the wrong lessons from it. They stood on the shoulders of giants and got a profile view. It seemed to the world that they were at the top. But really, the giants moved on and they're just hanging by their fingertips from the roof. Coax the giants back. You're going to have to drop down onto their shoulders again, it's true. That requires faith that they'll still be there to catch you as well as the confidence that, as they continue to eat, they will grow larger, bringing you back up to the roof. But you're never going to succeed by trying to hang onto the roof and growing yourself back down to the floor. You're never going to have enough food. Consider your position carefully, AMC.
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Bring back The Killing!
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I really liked this season of The Killing, better than I did the last season in some ways, but I'm not really surprised that AMC cancelled it because I heard almost ZERO buzz about the show when it was on. In any case, it still sucks to see it go because it had SO much potential.

I don't know what AMC needs to do short of get on the ball and start trying to develop some news shows, but whatever they do they need to do it fast. AMC and FX were always neck-and-neck in terms of which channel had the best shows, but it seems now that FX is en route to completely dominating that category.
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FX has been turning out more and better (IMO) shows for far longer than AMC has been. AMC has always been a distant second to them.
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There was lots of buzz from critics. All glowing reviews. I don't watch AMC during the week, so I don't know if they showed ads or reruns.

But why did they have to schedule The Killing on Sunday nights? It was like a TV marathon when The Killing was on.

Falling Skies
Game of Thrones
The Killing
Continuum
Vikings
The Walking Dead

That pretty much guaranteed that viewers would DVR the show or use 'other means' to watch.

Damn you AMC :(
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I think it sucks that all of AMC's shows are ending/coming to an end extremely soon. And reading some of the pilots it just seems like they are trying to find shows like the ones that are leaving but just different enough for them to say that they aren't the same.
Also idk how much longer they can survive with just Hell on Wheels and the Walking Dead. From what I gather Hell on Wheels isn't as popular as their other shows and I actually don't know about The Walking Dead, some of my friends and I who enjoy the show found the last season to be weak and our interest kind of fell so hopefully they improve this year, for me anyways.
And I know they own the rights to CSI but when do they air it? cuz seriously I haven't seen it once on AMC
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Doesn't matter how good The Killing was what were the ratings and why in the hell aren't people watching Low Winter Sun that show is good. It's like the Killing and The Wire had a kid in Detroit.
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I wanted to give that show a shot but missed the first two episodes and just decided to forget about it. I'm still deciding on whether I'm gonna go back and watch the season when it's over.
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I'm a big fan of Hell on Wheels. So glad it was (eventually) renewed. There aren't enough great westerns on TV. Hope it gets renewed for a fourth, but you never know with cable shows. AMC isn't the only cable network that kills quality shows. Remember HBO's Deadwood and Carnivale? Not bad enough that they were cancelled, but that they were cancelled on a cliffhanger (more so with Carnivale). I still refuse to buy the box sets solely because of that. It's like buying half a book!
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Carnivale was planned to run for six seasons but got killed after two (33% complete). Deadwood was supposed to run for four but only made it to three (75% complete). Not sure if it's worse for something to be cancelled at 33% or 75%.
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Carnivale was amazing, and died far too soon. HBO has much to answer for that bad decision. Shame!
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Carnivale was one of my all-time most favorite series. The fact that we got to see only a THIRD of its planned story still bothers me to this day.
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I'm still furious about that. HBO doesn't cancel shows! They could have given the show a decent conclusion at least.
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If I were an AMC exec, I'd be pushing for some quick script re-writes to tie together the disjointed worlds of Low Winter Sun together that could be throwing off the people trying to climb on board that train. It's a well-done show, and I'm really enjoying it, so I'd hate to see it go. It's in the AMC-vibe......or what the AMC vibe is for now, at least, until they lose all their shows, sans-Dead. But LWS has a serious problem that even I as a fan am not getting, and it makes the show a little bit of a chore. Half the show is the second coming of The Shield, rogue cops decide to kill another cop, show revolves around covering their butts and their ensuing corruption. Sounds easy, but.......no wait, that's only half the show. The other half is the 2nd coming of Breaking Bad, about a low-level gangsta wanna-be stepping up his game in the criminal world. An extremely loose, vague connection has been thrown out to connect characters in the two different plots, but really it's like watching 2 different shows. It needs some focus, like, now. So.....this wasn't meant to be a LWS review, but a serious answer. I think LWS has the potential to be good property for the channel. But they need to kill the Lost, "ITS ABOUT THE CHARACTERS DAMMIT, WE DON'T HAVE TO HAVE A PLOT THAT MAKES SENSE" thing they've got going on and help it be a viable property.

Then I'd take a good hard look at the shows that made my channel a rousing success, and I'd be hard on the lookout for more of them and work to develop some in-house, instead of some of the other reality crap they've got going on. Channels succeed by specializing, generally. Not by dabbling in everything.
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Just can't believe they cancelled the Killing. Amirite?

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Yep, bad farking idea. The Killing is brilliant... especially this last season. Why cancel one of the best shows?? They need to stop thinking so much about $ and more about artistic creation. The best intelligent material is not going to bring in the masses because the masses as a whole are dumbed down. You can't do both.
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Totally agree.
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It's always seemed clear to me that something is very amiss behind the scenes at this network. For every bit of greatness they produce, they almost immediately negate it with some piece of ill-conceived schlock. (The amateur taxidermy reality show, anyone? AMATEUR TAXIDERMY?!) Maybe that's why I always grimace when people mention it in the same breath as FX. FX has had far more hits than misses over the years -- much more so than AMC -- and is far more humble and far less shameless about promoting itself. FX lets the quality of its programming do the talking for it, while AMC bashes you over the head about its own "greatness" at every opportunity, all while making shows and decisions that undermine those claims. It seems to me like AMC is far too willing to drink their own Kool-Aid and believe their own marketing claims.

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There is something wrong with the world when Justified never gets nominated for best drama series. Maybe they should be less humble because Justified deserves all the awards! Especially after Breaking Bad ends.
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I agree with your acessement copletely. think there is an office politics war there between two or more executives and they can't control the roll of their boat. I do think the divisions of channels at FX is going to be a problem though.
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Yeah, I'm not a fan of the FXX spinoff channel. Not the channel itself, just the idea of its necessity. All of FX's original shows seemed to fit neatly within the confines of the days and time slots available to them. And if both channels are planning to expand their line of original programming so vastly that they truly need the extra time that a second channel affords, I fear it will eventually dilute the strength of the FX* brand severely.

I'm already annoyed that The Bridge is scheduled directly opposite Sunny and The League on Wednesday nights, while Thursday nights are currently entirely devoid of new stuff. There was no need to create a scheduling conflict so soon. More of this will surely follow. (Sure, I realize there are a multitude of repeat airings of both shows, but I still think they artificially created a conflict much faster than they needed to.)

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Look, folks, this isn't rocket science. Fox has way more movies and high-ad-dollar sports than they have hours to play them on Fox and FX. And FXM, I believe, is still not an HD channel, or has that changed? So what do you do? Pair the comedies on a channel with movies, which leaves you more time on FX for movies to go along with the dramas and football (both kinds). In other words, they're following the Turner model to a T (pun, well, sort-of intended).
Funny that at the same time on the Fox Sports side they've become enamored with the ESPN model, having launched Fox Sports 1 & 2 (and in the process, cannibalizing no fewer than three channel brands in the last month alone). Or am I just a little too cynical with that analysis?
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Poll

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Wow, how could you have forgotten to put Immortalized in that poll? That would have been the clear winner based on its premise.

http://www.amctv.com/shows/immortalized

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I also didn't include Owner's Manual. Which might be their best one next to Comic Book Men.
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Oh man, this is definitely the winner.
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Small Town Security is the worst. At least Immortalized takes some skill.
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The Pitch is still on??? I did not know that.
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I actually really enjoy The Pitch, but they hardly advertise it compared to their other reality shows.

Also, I can't say I understand the vision there... The Pitch felt like a nice complement to Mad Men. The rest feel like a slightly higher brow version of TLC's worst shows.
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Yeah, and they even stopped airing The Pitch with MM, which is even more random.
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I was ready to dismiss Comic Book Men, then it sucked me in. Actually very entertaining. Pawn Stars-esque.
Agreed that the rest are TLC rejected shows. Brutal.
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If I was running AMC i would try and get into production partnership with TV companies from other countries, it would save and costs and increase their creative options. This type of model has worked for other networks with shows like Copper and Continum.

Chances are they could snap up quality English shows before BBCA does - Broadchurch was not made by the BBC but airs on BBCA.
Other American channels are already using UK shows in their schedules - Syfy has Sinbad, Merlin and Primeval
There are a number of shows which air on Netflix and Hulu from the UK - The Fall (BBC production), Misfits (Channel 4 production)
Orphan Black is a stand out co production which has the buzz that AMC would crave - a BBC co production that will not air in the UK until September 20th 2013 - the American channel can get the plaudits first, which would suit AMC as well.

Secondly I would try and lure the writers who previously had critical success, but are currently not attached to a show some meetings - Denis Leary and Peter Tolan (Rescue Me, The Job), Ted Griffin (Terriers), Alan Ball (True Blood), David Milch (Deadwood) = surely one of them has a good idea

Thirdly = a few mini series AND NOT A F*CKING EVENT SERIES LIKE UNDER THE DOME
Some older films (especially Westerns) would work extremely well as mini series - personally i would love someone to do a mini series of The Searchers - a lot of these properties would be cheap and also buzz worthy.

Fourth - get a talk show not anchored to another show. Isnt Bill Maher available?

Finally -and this will probably never happen because of the cost involved - i would make a series out of a few console games. GoT had buzz and an inbuilt audience, certain games would have this too. I know some people will mock this idea, but if the right people were involved, it could be very successful.
Gears of War and Mass Effect would probably be the best examples of this.Both have critical acclaim and large fanbases. Their stories are also big enough to make shows out of them. Watch these trailers and try and come up with an argument that doesnt revolve around AMC being tight fisted
Both would have BSG popularity levels
(probably never happen and AMC does more reality programming)
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What exactly about Orphan Black suits AMC, the part about it having already aired on BBC America?
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I was using Orphan Black to illustrate that co productions can achieve critical success. My point would be a model similar to the one used to produce Orphan Black would suit AMC - shared costs, critical acclaim and awards buzz.
At no point did i suggest AMC should purchase Orphan Black
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Yes, yes you did. You did not state that AMC should create a similar situation, just that it would "suit" AMC.
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Not necessarily current shows either, because I'd love to see Life on Mars, Whitechapel, Hustle, Wallander, Mad Dogs and a few other shows that might fit with AMC's image and subject suitability criteria. They could have run the original Low WInter Sun rather than offering us the depressingly grim, bleak view of the Motor City their incarnation proves to be.
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No, i said AMC would crave crave the buzz Orphan Black created and that if they were in co production with the BBC there would be the possibility of airing a quality co-production first.

"Chances are they could snap up quality English shows before BBCA does" = the word before should have given you a clear idea that i was talking about future properties - such as The Musketeers, The Great Train Robbery and The Escape Artist.

If you still believe i said AMC should purchase Orphan Black then copy and paste the section in a response
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Don't you just love it when you can tell reading comprehension is a top priority for folks commenting on what is obviously a well thought out and cogently set out argument? I know I always appreciate it.

Not certain I agree about creating scripted dramas from video games, but I'm not a gamer and therefore haven't enough info to form an opinion. That being said, I do love me some Strike Back and Hunted, not to mention Banshee, all of which possess elements of the production values you enumerated in your post.

I do agree wholeheartedly about cross-border cooperation in programming and think we shouldn't limit it to the UK or Canada; Americans can learn to love subtitles. I'd love it if AMC or another programmer licensed Borgenand brought that to US audiences. That series is fascinating and a real treat to watch. I do not think it could be remade in an American version, but perhaps a UK or Canadian version might work. I'd appreciate being able to view top rated series from Israel, Latin America and Europe and I think this would mesh well with AMC's "high-brow" critical audience. It's risky but a better risk than ridicule inviting reality programming.
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And yet, with all that vaunted education, reading comprehension yet eludes you, sir. But you evidently excelled in being a snide, self-aggrandizing douche bag; your alma mater must be so proud.
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Sorry toots, I would bet dollars to donuts that my education level is vastly beyond yours. It was not well thought out, it was actually quite the opposite and worded poorly.
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HoW is one of the best things on tv. It has/had the potential to be one of the great shows but it doesn't seem to get the production values it deserves.
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I feel as though AMC maybe needs to clean house and steal people away from FX. That won't happen in the middle of the BB lovefest that is going on right now. The network can't do wrong in the press.

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Part of the problem at AMC was highlighted in a Forbes article I saw awhile ago. Now, the idea of high quality cable television is to what- get more money from cable and satellite providers. Get everyone begging for the channel to see Don Draper and this will make it okay considering the lower ratings these shows tend to have. But apparently that doesn't work well enough. Mad Men and BB have never had that great of ratings. Just high critical acclaim. So apparently this isn't bringing in enough revenue. Hence the CSI Miami repeats and creepy reality shows to attempt to make up the difference. Hence the tough negotiations. BB should probably have had two thirteen episode seasons. But they probably didn't think the ratings justify it. They chose one of their shows (MM) and gave it all (two seasons). They've figured out that they can keep taking a hatchet to The Walking Dead and it will continue to do well no matter what.

Look at FX. Their shows usually are higher rated. When they're not, they're cancelled no matter how well received. I don't think Mad Men or BB would have made it as long on FX. Walking Dead would, due to its drastically better ratings. Remember Damages? One of the best shows on tv in recent years. FX let it go; no one watched it despite it cleaning up at the Emmys.

So there's only so much a network will ignore in the ratings department in search of quality and buzz before giving up.

Often a network will unite around a quality show for an identity and this supposedly will lead to an increase in money. Directv took Damages; BBCA Orphan Black. But whether or not that actually works is questionable. Sure FX has a solid setup but even they have caved on the "prestige" network that achieves a better payout than ratings idea.
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I think The Americans gets ratings in the 0.4 - 0.7 range and it was renewed. The Bridge is more stable at around 0.7. Justified doesn't even get fantastic ratings. Thank god FX has the good sense to keep renewing Justified.
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You're right. Those are bad numbers for The Americans. They were between 1 and 2 mil, which is close to what Damages had. I'm not sure The Americans will be able to keep going for very long based on this info. Terriers apparently had microscopic ratings under 1 mil.

I'll disagree on Justified. It averages between 2 mil and 3 and gets over 3 for the season premiere. It's doing very well.
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Those may be Americans's demo numbers, but it was drawing at least in the 1.5 millions overall. But FX is very into the L+7 numbers, not just not the standard Nielsen numbers. Landgraf probably considers them more important.
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Not to say that the demo isn't important, but too often people make to much of a deal of it and try to ignore anyone over a certain age. Sure young people like to buy lots of things (like sneakers), but older people are likely to have more money (they'll spend it more wisely). This is basically why Jay Leno won the late night wars twice.
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What I meant to say was that young people aren't established and don't have much money. Older Americans are established and have money to spend on whatever they want. The thing is older Americans don't care as much about things such as sneakers, video games, etc. They are less likely to buy these items. So I would say that the youth demo to a large degree is a joke. What's the most financially successful network? CBS When has the CW ever turned a profit? Never. This is why its stupid for NBC to keep replacing Leno. I agree with your affluent comment and believe that method is what CNBC and MSNBC pursue.
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People = network executives. And demos are still fairly important for networks and channels, especially more niche-centric channels.

And while, yes, the 18-49 is still tops (and not just due to spending ability, but also building brand connections; it's outdated, but the entire advertising system on network TV is still outdated), but as you've alluded to, other demos are important...except that demos tends to be vary from show to show. Good Wife survives due to its popularity with affluent audiences, not younger people.

Also: Do you think advertisers care if you make wise spending decisions so long as you just make a spending decision? ;)
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Then why the hell did we never get more Terriers? (rhetorical, of course)
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'So there's only so much a network will ignore in the ratings department in search of quality and buzz before giving up'. That's an excellent point!
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AMC is one more misstep from sending Walking Dead tumbling down a ratings cliff with no hope of stopping the descent. They need to give creative types there the money to spend and a belief in their work. As much as the other properties matter, how the suits treat TWD going forward will reflect on every other show they do...fall in love too much with the BB spinoff to the detriment of TWD could cause the channel irreparable harm.
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Despite the ratings, and I know I'm in the minority, I still haven't forgiven them for canceling Rubicon.
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Me either. For a network that once claimed "story matters here," they didn't give this show enough time to build audience and momentum. I miss Rubicon. My appetite for high-level political conspiracy theories was briefly satisfied by ABC's Last Resort, but it, too, got the axe prematurely.
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If you were an AMC exec, what would YOU be trying to do right now? -- Being thankful that I own The Walking Dead outright, unlike all my other lucrative/critically successful programs that I don't see a nickle of ancillary money from.

I'd also be trying to poach from the NBCUniversal cable executive pool, the whole G4/Esquire/Style debacle this week notwithstanding, to try and get someone to correct course for my flagship channel as well as the other channels I'm responsible for.

Are we aware of AMC's managerial structure? I feel like I read once, a while back, that it was a very committee-oriented place, which isn't always the best way to manage a channel/network (just ask UPN, though they had a whole mess of circumstances that AMC doesn't, so hardly a fair comparison).
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Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's basically whomever answers the phone that day is in charge. MWF, it's Frank. TTH, Sally.
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FX needs to poke fun at AMC by having Wilfred take a job as an executive at the latter network.
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ALSO: I feel like this article should've been titled: "How's AMC doing?" so I could've done this:
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I would also try to see if I could getThe Riftwar Saga by Raymond E. Feist, I think it would make an Epic show and if done correctly would rival Game of Thrones but they couldn't be cheap about it.
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If I were AMC I would be fighting tooth and nail to try to get a hold of The Sword of Truth series rights andstart that over the right way and that would be HUGE!
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Perhaps they plan to offer something of substance in place of those shows; wouldn't that be great?
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AMC: Nothing Matters Here...

Out of all their reality shows, the only one that is any good is Comic Book Men.
Still, they are never going to become the next HBO by cutting production budgets and firing their talent. Once BB and Mad Men are gone, the only reason I see myself tuning into AMC is for the movies they air.

Harsh Criticism:
Better Kill the Saul Goodman Show idea
The Sleeping Dead story is growing tiresome
Small Time Bomb Security is terrible

Low Winter Sun, I have not seen a single minute of the show. Not even to catch the teasers for what will happen next in BB. Poor job with your promos trying to explain what the show is about. Detective Drama that aired over seas in a remake with the exact same actor? ZzzZzZzzzzzzz.

The Killing, you thought it would buy you time. It did, it also stained your reputation of "Story Matters Here"...glad you agreed and changed your tagline.

The Good:
-Keep airing Story Notes + Westerns Films. I love it.
-Mad Men + BB, way to not let their respective show runners walk.
-Comic Book Men, not a ratings behemoth but its the type of reality programming you should be doing.

Opportunity:
-Invest in mini-series
-Bring back Rubicon
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Why hasn't anyone mentioned The Glades? I heard they canceled it just because it went down in ratings once. If that was the way it was with other networks shows like Supernatural would have been canceled seasons ago.
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That is an A&E show.
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I would be swimming in a Cocaine Filled Hot Tub with Hookers from Las Vegas-- Why because AMC will never be on top again you might as well go out like a 1980's Cuban American Druglord! By they way where is my little friend?
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AMC is definitely in a bit of trouble. I think it'll be a few years yet before the full ripple down effect happens, but they aren't pulling shows in right now. If I was a writer and/or producer who is known whatsoever, AMC would be one of the last places I would shop my shop just because of all the behind-the-scenes drama that they announce to the world. It makes them look petty and does not instill confidence in a nice working environment.

The biggest issue they have for the immediate future is the number of shows leaving. You cannot maintain a network with almost entirely new shows unless you're pulling an FX and creating two channels to air more programming (which they definitely aren't in a position to do).
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I could care less what happens to AMC after Breaking Bad ends. I never watched Mad Men, it just doesnt seem like my kinda show, and the Walking Dead is average at best. FX is where its at right now, they have consistently amazing and new series, and they have amazing comedies.
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It's all aimed at the 'lowest brows' among us; not a single show for a thinking person.
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Wait, which network is low brow? I'd argue that Mad Men is quite the opposite if you meant AMC. If you mean FX, Justified and The Americans may be fun, but the writing is certainly nowhere near low brow.
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Out of curiosity what do you consider 'thinking person' show?
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My 2nd and 3rd favorite shows are The Wire, and The Sopranos, Im not a "low brow" person. FX just has some great shows. So American horror Story, The Americans, Justifed, The Shield, and Terriers are "low brow"
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