While he may have left "The Walking Dead" under unfortunate circumstances, Frank Darabont is still emulating that show's format for his new 1940s L.A. cops & organised crime drama series "Mob City" on TNT.
The show's first season runs six episodes and TNT is doing the unusual move of airing it as a limited series - showing two episodes back-to-back every Wednesday night for the next three weeks starting tomorrow night.
Darabont tells The Live Feed that this is not a "limited miniseries" so much as a half-season: "Think of this as a half a season. Just like when we started The Walking Dead, that was six episodes -- a half a season. It's just the way they're airing it has created this impression that it's a different kind of thing. It's not. We shot these as individual hours just like any hour of television show."
He also says like 'Dead', if the show scores an audience then he expects the network will give them a more typical second season order. Darabont loves this approach: "It gives the filmmaker a chance to prove his case with the audience more than just a pilot. You can't really tell anything from a pilot. With six, you can really make your case and the network can give you the opportunity to do that without committing their resources for a full season."
However the most interesting answer was in regards to a question about how major filmmakers and actors are all flocking to television of late, and the appeal of doing a series. It's a long answer, but it sums up this whole sea change quite well:
For one thing, there's a certain volume expected -- you're not sitting around for two or three years waiting for someone to say yes. So you go to work. There's a machine that kicks in with television and you have to keep it fed. That means we get to do what we do on a regular basis; we're not sitting around twiddling our thumbs.
The other thing is, a lot of the best writing has fled to television because they don't want it in movies anymore. Hopefully the pendulum is swinging back, but I think movies by and large have sucked for some years now because it's all the special effects extravaganzas, and I don't give a damn about any of the characters because there's no writing there.
You see that with the actors, too, who are coming to television for that very reason. They're getting stuff to play in television that they don't get to do in features.
Certainly with Breaking Bad and going back to The Sopranos, it's more adult content now. It's not Mr. Ed anymore or The Beverly Hillbillies. You've got some serious storytelling going on with very adult content, and that is such a pleasure.
Plus it's not all just gloom and doom on the feature side, but the other part of it is that television can give certain niche stories a chance. Like Breaking Bad never would have existed as a feature, I don't think, but it's brilliant television.
You wouldn't necessarily get to do a noir movie -- like Mob City -- but you can do it for television. The genre stuff, the niche stuff, has more of a chance to breathe on television. So we run to television to do our jobs.