The tumultuous behind the scenes environment of AMC's "The Walking Dead" has gotten almost as much press since its debut as the show itself.
First came the ouster of original series developer and showrunner Frank Darabont, who unexpectedly left the series midway through its second season. Current showrunner Glen Mazzara made a concerted effort to correct the show's somewhat glacial pace, resulting in an exciting, if somewhat shallow, third season. Given the rave reviews the current season has been getting, it was equally unexpected when AMC announced the departure of Mazzara and the promotion of writer Scott Gimple to showrunner beginning with season four.
There has been some speculation about the type of series viewers can expect with Gimple manning the helm of the ship -- the slower paced, character heavy style of Darabont, the frenetic and violent style of Mazzara, or some other style entirely.
At a recent panel at PaleyFest, the show's cast and crew voiced their support of the new showrunner, particularly comic book creator (and reported main influence behind removing Mazzara from his role) Robert Kirkman, who said, "I think having Scott Gimple come up and become an executive producer and showrunner is gonna provide a very tremendous voice for the show. I think it's gonna give us a clear path moving forward. He's been an integral part of the writers room since the beginning of Season 2. I think we've got some really exciting times ahead of us under his leadership."
Added executive producer David Alpert, "Scott has a really amazing vision for where the show goes. He has it sort of fully mapped out. He's collaborative, he's an amazing writer and amazing producer. We really couldn't be luckier to have him as our new showrunner."
Sunday's episode "Clear," penned by Gimple, was hailed by fans of the series as a standout, deftly balancing characterization with action. Danai Gurira, whose character Michonne got some much needed emphasis in the episode, said of Gimple, "A lot of the episodes I'm heavily involved in, he wrote. He'd be on set and we worked very intimately together. I deeply respect him as a writer and a creative voice. I trust him a great deal, he's a great artist."
Director and executive producer Greg Nicotero added to the anticipation for the upcoming series. "We did the pitch out for Season 4 the other day," he said at PaleyFest. "Our team of writers is so great. I feel we're poised for greatness for Season 4. We have a couple new writers that are top notch and I feel like we're headed to the stars."