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‘The Walking Dead’ Set to Shamble Lifelessly Forward Without Star Andrew Lincoln

In the mid-1980s, NBC aired a sitcom called Valerie starring Valerie Harper. It was fairly successful, at least successful enough that when Harper walked off the show over a contract dispute that the producers replaced her with Sandy Duncan instead of cancelling the show. The show continued as The Hogan Family for four more seasons and a change of network until it was cancelled due to low ratings. The ratings of the last season were actually so low it was tied with Cop Rock for the year.

In the early 2000s, John Ritter died early in the production of season two of 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, a sitcom in which he co-starred with Katey Sagal. It had been a popular series, so the network decided to continue it by having James Garner and David Spade join the cast, much like Sandy Duncan had on Valerie, as family members helping a newly-single parent raise their children. The show was renewed for a third season but lost roughly half its audience and was cancelled.

I don’t even think I need to mention how badly The Office and That ’70s Show played out when respective stars Steve Carell and Topher Grace (along with Ashton Kutcher) left. They existed, but never actually recovered from the loss of their stars. There’s also Two and a Half Men, which was never good but managed to be even worse when Charlie Sheen went all Margot Kidder after finding out he had AIDS and got fired.

Why the TV history lesson? Because I don’t want you to get your hopes up that The Walking Dead will remain a watchable show after the departure of Andrew Lincoln, who plays protagonist Rick Grimes. It seems likely that deuteragonist Daryl Dixon, a character created specifically for the show and played by Norman Reedus, will take over as the primary protagonist.

The Walking Dead is already suffering from a number of problems. It’s worn its premise thin and has turned repetitive and has started to lack direction. By “started” I mean it has lacked direction for years. It turns out the reason zombie movies tend to run between 90 minutes and two hours is that there’s only so long you can watch before you start to root for the zombies.

Deadline, who reported the departure of Lincoln, has also reported Norman Reedus signed a new contract worth $20 million dollars, which is not a bad fee for becoming the captain of a sinking ship. He can take that money and buy himself a nice home in the Hollywood Hills to stay at between seasons of his motorcycle travelogue show once The Walking Dead inevitably meets the business end of a cancellation bat.

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