This morning AMC (home of the strongest, most engaging TV programming in the last few years) debuted footage from the newest member of their family, Frank Darabont and Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead. The filmmakers and cast were on hand to roll out an extender teaser trailer, and discuss the intense process of adapting this epic comic book series into what promises to be some of the strongest storytelling on TV this year.  Check out more after the jump!

With smash successes Mad Men and Breaking Bad under their belts, AMC is adding another character driven, ensemble drama to their stable.  Only this one has zombies! Robert Kirkman, author of the ongoing comic book series, and director Frank Darabont joined the cast and network staff to discuss making this show.  Everyone seemed extremely proud of the work. Here are some highlights from the panel.

Kirkman said that he has been heavily involved in the production of the series, even to the extent of writing some of the episode scripts.

Though the story will be very faithful to the source material, Darabont says:

“This story has so many possibilities, I couldn’t help but want to explore this world and these characters even more.  We will never go off the path, but we will also definitely return to it…I don’t want readers of the comic to know exactly what’s coming next.”

The filmmakers took great care to maintain the visual aesthetic of Charlie Adlar’s art from the comic book, particularly in the case of the zombies. Makeup artist Greg Nicotero said:

“We tried to pull images right off the page.  The zombies are gaunt and emaciated, with a faceful of teeth, as if they haven’t eaten in ages.”

It was also announced that Bear McCreary, composer of Battlestar Galactica, will be scoring the series.

With the blessing of the network, the show will push the boundaries of permissible violence on cable TV. Darabont tells us:

“When you see a zombie in the crosshairs of a rifle, we don’t cut away when the trigger is pulled…This show will be chock full of dead children.”

The first season is only 6 episodes long, however, they were all talking as if they were expecting it to be picked up for a second season.  They mentioned characters they were looking forward to writing, and stories they hoped to lead up to. Hopefully, AMC will do the same for The Walking Dead as they did for Breaking Bad, which is to double the episode order for the second season, and really let the show breathe.

Expect the trailer to start appearing on TV later this summer, but if you can’t wait, here’s a brief description of what some of it looked like:

  • The trailer opens on a car chase, which ends in a gunfight in which our hero, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) is shot.  He wakes up in the hospital to find that the world has literally gone to hell. He has no idea what has happened. A scrawled note on a barricaded door reads, “DO NOT OPEN, DEAD INSIDE.”  We then cut to Rick stumbling through a devastated town, observing corpses everywhere. This is intercut with a man trying to explain to Rick what happened. “You’ve seen the dead? I’m not talking about the ones they’ve taken out…I mean the walkers.” We then see Rick approaching Atlanta on an empty freeway, while the side leading away from town is jammed with vacant cars. In the city, rick flees from hordes of zombies. He falls off his horse on the same street in which a tank sits abandoned. He crawls into the tank, as the zombies cover every inch. We also see an undead little girl, gurgling and growling, approaching the camera. Another shot reveals a legless zombie crawling towards Rick. He looks down at it and says, “I’m sorry this happened to you.” He raises his gun, and fires.

Personally, this is the one thing I am most excited about at Comic-Con this year. I have been reading this comic since its beginning, and it is amazing. It is a real demonstration of the fact that in a zombie story, the humans are the scariest part of it all, and no one is safe.

The Walking Dead premiers in October on AM— GAH!  LOOK OUT!

Excited? We are!