Horror-themed TV shows on the horizon

By Jeff Peterson

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Sept. 12 2013 5:06 p.m. MDT

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) in AMC's "The Walking Dead."

TWD Productions

It’s somehow fitting that a series about the zombie apocalypse would open the gates for more horror shows on TV.

Since it first aired in 2010, AMC’s “The Walking Dead” has been a ratings juggernaut despite all the factors working against it — extremely niche subject matter, graphic content, a mostly unlikable cast of characters, etc.

As a whole, however, the third season averaged the highest adult audience of any entertainment show this year, according to an official press release, beating out everything from “The Voice” and “Modern Family” to “Game of Thrones.”

The March finale alone pulled in a ridiculous 12.4 million viewers, including 8.1 million among the coveted 18-49 demographic.

Given those numbers, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that networks are scrambling to create series that can compete with the gory zombie drama.

Adding to an already robust lineup of horror-themed television, including “American Horror Story,” “The Following,” “Bates Motel” and “Hannibal” — not to mention lighter fare like “The Vampire Diaries” and “Supernatural” — there are a number of series in the pipeline right now dealing with content usually only seen in R-rated horror movies.

MTV, for example, is currently working on a serialized version of Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven’s meta slasher franchise “Scream” to go along with the currently-airing “Teen Wolf.”

Lifetime, meanwhile, is prepping a pseudo-sequel to “The Silence of the Lambs” called “Clarice” that focuses on the character originally portrayed by Jodie Foster. The channel also has “The Witches of East End” with Jenna Dewan-Tatum (Channing’s wife) and Julia Ormond set to premiere this October.

Along with a revamped “Dracula” (pun very much intended) with Jonathan Rhys Meyers, NBC is developing a mini-series based on Roman Polanski’s 1968 horror film “Rosemary’s Baby,” which follows a woman raped and impregnated by the Devil. Also recently announced by NBC are plans to re-adapt Stephen King’s “The Tommyknockers.”

The broadcast channel also has its own “Silence of the Lambs” spinoff, “Hannibal.” Despite its TV-14 rating, the series, centering on a pre-captivity Hannibal Lecter (played by Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen) teaming up with a criminal profiler, has developed a reputation for its gruesome violence and depraved subject matter. KSL dropped the show from its evening lineup three episodes in.

“On ‘Hannibal’ we recognize that (the) show really pushes the envelope a lot," said Jennifer Salke, president of NBC Entertainment, in an interview with IGN. "I think, for us, it’s important, in a world where these cable shows (like ‘The Walking Dead’) are beloved and infringing on real estate that was network real estate, obviously, we need to send a message to the community and to creators … that we support a big, risky event kind of vision.”

A native of Utah Valley and a devoted cinephile, Jeff Peterson is currently studying humanities and history at Brigham Young University.

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