With the ends of top series Breaking Bad and Mad Men visible on the horizon, AMC is working on material to replace its two departing shows (Breaking Bad will be calling it quits after next summer's season 5, part 2, while Mad Men will end after 2014's season 7). On Friday, it was reported that the network had just inked a deal for one new scripted series -- and it's about aliens.
Area 51, adapted from the nonfiction book of the same name by Annie Jacobsen, is now in the cards for AMC. Produced by The Walking Dead's Gale Ann Hurd, the series will feature Jacobsen as a co-producer and Todd E. Kessler (The Unit, The Good Wife, Rome) as a writer.
Based around the mysterious military base of the same name (which has long been rumored to focus on alien activity), Area 51 will essentially be Mad Men with aliens. Set in the 1950s and '60s, the series will reportedly focus on the workers in Area 51 who protect America’s deepest, darkest secrets — including the remains of the “alien” crash at Roswell — and how they become infected with Cold War paranoia," according to the New York Post.
Once you bring in the real-world context of the Cold War, the show has the potential to transcend just being another genre show. Of course, AMC has missed before -- The Walking Dead, as fun as it is to watch, has not come close to reaching the emotional depths of Mad Men or Breaking Bad, while western series Hell on Wheels has failed to garner much buzz at all. Both shows are fun in their own rights, but if AMC wants to replace critical juggernauts like Mad Men and Breaking Bad, they better fill Area 51 with depth and intense characterization.
Area 51 joins the Mark Strong-starring mystery series Low Winter Sun and an untitled legal thriller as shows that AMC has in development.