January 14, 2012 6:11pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
TCA: 'The Walking Dead' Showrunner Explains Unproduced Frank Darabont Premiere (Video)
The Walking Dead showrunner Glen Mazzara on Saturday clarified why the AMC zombie drama opted not to move forward with an unproduced Season 2 premiere that was the brainchild of ousted showrunner Frank Darabont.
The one-off episode, which Darabont explained in a recent letter to Aint It Cool, would have revolved around an Army Ranger fighting the against the zombie apocalypse in the early days of the outbreak. Darabont, who shepherded Walking Dead to the screen for the network before being ousted last year, said the documentary-style episode would have offered a back story to the zombie Rick (Andrew Lincoln) encounters in an Atlanta tank in the show's pilot and provided a glimpse of the world in the early days of the attack.
"That story was discussed internally; that was Frank's pitch and it was one of many ideas examined in the writers' room," Mazzara told reporters at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour, noting that it was a group decision -- made before Darabont was removed as showrunner.
"It just felt like a stall and we wanted to get to our characters," he noted. "We have a lot of ideas like that. … That was not something that was rejected by another party. That's not accurate."
Also not accurate, executive producer Robert Kirkman said, were reports online that Michonne, one of the central characters in his comic series on which the show is based, would appear this season.
"That's a character we definitely want to work into at some point in the future," he told reporters. "Whether or not it happens this season, I don't really know."
Spoilers during the panel were hard to come by, with executive producers and cast members Norman Reedus (Daryl), Steven Yeun (Glenn) and Melissa McBride (Carol) offering little of what's to come when the second half of the show's sophomore season returns Feb. 12 at 9 p.m.
"[With] two alpha males sparring for position, we get a lot of great story out of that," Mazzara said. "It puts everybody else in a difficult position on that farm."
Check out a preview of the poster, above, of the second half of the season and a preview of Episode 8, titled "Nebraska," below.