The good news and bad news about AMC's decision to stretch Mad Men's finale over 2014 and 2015
You can tell a lot about a TV channel by the scheduling moves it makes.
Which is why news today that AMC decided to split the final season of its landmark drama Mad Men into two, seven-episode chunks airing in 2014 and 2015 smells a little bit like desperation.
AMC executives said the split of Breaking Bad over 2012 and 2013 inspired the move. “We are determined to bring Mad Men a similar showcase. In an era where high-end content is savored and analyzed, and catch-up time is used well to drive back to live events, we believe this is the best way to release the now 14 episodes than remain of this iconic series.”
Already, the channel has announced two spin-offs of other popular shows. Breaking Bad, which ends its sterling series run two Sundays from now, will begat Better Call Saul, a program starring Bob Odenkirk’s sleazy lawyer/comic relief character Saul Goodman.
And on Monday, the channel unveiled an undefined “companion series” for its runaway hit The Walking Dead, set in another, undefined corner of the world inhabited by the series, where a new cast of characters presumably are also struggling with the zombie apocalypse. It’s scheduled for a 2015 debut.
These announcements come amid the ending of Mad Men and Breaking Bad, two of the most acclaimed series on TV and the cornerstone of AMC’s reinvention as a home for quality shows
They also come as newer AMC series such as Low Winter Sun and Hell on Wheels have fallen short of similar acclaim (and ratings), while the cop drama The Killing was just canceled for a second time by the channel.
If Mad Men had ended in just one season, none of the spin offs mentioned above would be ready for prime time. A two-year conclusion gives AMC enough breathing room to develop something which might have greater impact than what’s on the air right now.
In the end, it all might work out well. Breaking Bad fans have been hoping for a Saul Goodman spin off and a smaller run of Mad Men episodes each year will just give them more time to craft a show which is already one of the most finely-crafted programs on television.
Still, AMC only has a little more time to compensate for the loss of two of the most-praised programs on television.
Better get to work guys; spin offs and rescheduling will only work so long.