In October, AMC aired the Season 10 “Special Event” of The Walking Dead. Critically, the episode is considered one of the finest for a series finale for the show. In fact, it’s received an 8.4/10 from IMDB.com viewers and the season itself has a 85% critical score and and 82% viewers score on RottenTomatoes.com. However, even with all of the hype and promotion, viewers didn’t return to the show. Will the new extended Season 10C, which returns tonight, share the same fate?
October’s episode, “A Certain Doom,” had only 2.7 million live viewers , the lowest of any season 10 episode. However what is even worse is that it’s the lowest number of live viewers EVER for the entire series. The previous low had been 2.9 million live viewers in March of 2020.
The episode was originally scheduled to air back in April of 2020. However, the pandemic slowed the post-production of the episode and viewers were relegated to waiting. During the San Diego Comic-Con at Home panel for the show, in July 2020, it was announced that the show would air its Season 10 Finale in October. It was later announced that the show would then be billed as a “Special Event” and no longer a Finale, as there would be 6 additional episodes added to Season 10, with Season 11 being the final season for the show.
This weekend, The Walking Dead returns with a six episode run starting with a Maggie-centered episode titled, “Home Sweet Home.” The episode’s description says:
Maggie has returned with a story she is not ready to share, even when her past catches up to her. Negan’s safety is at stake again. Daryl and Maggie fight an unseen and unknown threat.
The difference between the “Special Event” episode and this coming weekend’s episode is that AMC has had much more time to appropriately promote the show’s return. As well, in this age of binge watching, fans know that they’ll get six consecutive weekends of content. Will that make it worth their time? It will be interesting to see where the ratings fall. With longtime favorites like Glenn, Abraham, Carl, Rick, and now, Michonne, all departed, does the show have enough of its original lure to draw viewers back.
One other difference than the past seasons, fans now know there is an endpoint to the entire series. After these six episodes, there will be twenty-four episodes to conclude its final and upcoming season for the series. It’s time to pick up the end of the book – a light is at the end of the tunnel.
Previously, The Los Angeles Times interviewed Sarah Barnett, President of AMC Networks. Barnett has been AMC’s new President for approximately a year and knows exactly why viewership numbers for The Walking Dead have declined over the past few years.
The biggest show that Barnett inherited as President of AMC is The Walking Dead, its universe and spinoff shows. “I think there are endless stories to be told in this [The Walking Dead] universe,” she told the Times, while also confirming what Scott Gimple has already stated, the the Rick Grimes movie will have “a lot more ambition.” It’s clearly a good series upon which to continue building a network through its “evolutionary phase” because, as Barnett notes, “The Walking Dead remains, for all of its much-talked-about decline, by far the biggest show in ad-supported [cable].”
However, Barnett does concede that ratings have obviously fallen for The Walking Dead and she pinpoints what I believe is the exact right reason for it:
In terms of the quality question, I think that with 10 seasons of television — something like ER or Grey’s Anatomy — shows go through spurts. We’ve done a lot of research on the response to it and we certainly have our own thoughts about it. It’s true to say that that season with Negan [a mega-villain played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan] became a little too hopeless for audiences. I think that there was creative intention behind it that was really smart and thoughtful, but it I think it probably pushed people to a place where it was a lot to take at a time when maybe people just didn’t want to see that.
Is hopelessness really the reason? These seasons were ‘All Out War’, finding Rick and the communities under the thumb of Negan. However, many of the complaints for the lackluster numbers range from the loss of Glenn and Abraham to the lack of believability and continuity in the story lines. So will the eleventh and final season bring hope? And will hope bring back viewers?
Showrunner, Angela Kang, certainly has improved the quality of the show since her arrival and taking the reigns from Scott Gimple, who is currently the Chief Content Officer for the world of The Walking Dead. In fact, the season ten had the highest viewer ratings (not viewership numbers) of any season so far.
Will viewers return to see how The Walking Dead ends? That’s the biggest question and we will start to get an answer this weekend.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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