Are You Paying Attention to AMC?

 In Television

Because if you’re not, you’re missing out on a cable juggernaut that has been gaining incredible momentum over the past three years.

In addition to a wide variety of movies–which is probably what you imagine is all the channel consists of if you aren’t familiar and go by the name–that span every genre and every era, they’ve managed to compile some of the most compelling original programming on television. The show that started it all for them, Mad Men (a show I can guarantee will be the subject of many blog posts here), continues to win Golden Globes and Emmys year after year and has grown into somewhat of a cultural phenomenon. I can bring up that show with just about everyone I know and they’re all hooked on it–with good reason.

AMC‘s upcoming show, Rubicon, has also been receiving some early praise. It’s billed as a conspiracy theory thriller that appeals to everyone who has some skepticism about the relationship between big business and our government, which we think is pretty much everybody, according to Joel Stillerman, the SVP of original programming at the network. So, knowing the tradition AMC is building, I’m looking forward adding Rubicon to my DVR list.

Something else I’m really looking forward to is the production of The Walking Dead, a television adaptation of the Robert Kirkman / Tony Moore comic book about the zombie apocalypse. As far as I know, with the exception of a few characters on Lost, this might be the first time zombies have been included as primary subjects on a television show and, really, I couldn’t be happier; I just love zombies. In fact, over the weekend I played Left 4 Dead 2 on my nephew’s X-Box and I’m pretty sure it was the most fun I’ve had in some time. Especially since the zombies in that game are fast, and you can play as them instead of just choosing to be survivors. AMC only ordered six episodes of The Walking Dead, so maybe they don’t expect much of a viewership, but I really hope it catches on. In this time of 10,000 horror movie reboots and a few decent originals, it seems like America could be ready for a weekly dose of the undead. I guess we’ll find out in the fall.

Breaking BadIn the meantime, the whole reason I started writing this post at all is because of AMC’s other original series, the one that–at least until season four of Mad Men begins in a few months–I believe to be the best show on television: Breaking Bad. Are you familiar with this show? Because if you’re not, you should go find the first two seasons, watch them all, and then catch up with the current season online. Seriously. Do it. This show is top-notch from the writing to the acting to the production. And like Mad Men, the awards are starting to pour in.

Breaking Bad is a show about decisions, consequences and transformation. Its main character, Walter White (a role for which Bryan Cranston has now won two Emmys), is a high school science teacher and family man who at the beginning of the show is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. In a last-ditch effort to secure his family’s financial future after he’s gone, he puts his knowledge of chemistry to use and turns to making and selling crystal meth with a former student. Walt quickly rises to power in this dangerous world and, as you can imagine, bad things start to happen. It’s like Scarface, but if Scarface were a total nerd and the end of the movie hasn’t come just yet. Oh, and Walt’s brother-in-law is a DEA agent. Hello, tension!

The show is set in New Mexico, so in addition to some fantastic writing and acting, the landscape is a beautiful backdrop, sometimes majestic and sometimes desperate. It’s almost another character. So is the shot blocking. Just about every element of this show is vivid and gripping. It’s an hour of your week that you’ll be glad you gave up.

I could watch AMC all day. Between shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men and the wide array of films they broadcast, it’s a one-stop shop for people like me who take their entertainment seriously. And it’s only going to get better, because like their slogan says, story matters here.

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