News broke late on Feb. 27 that True Blood showrunner Alan Ball was likely stepping down from his post at the steamy HBO drama after the fifth season. Early Feb. 28, the series’ managerial changes were confirmed, causing many fans to wonder what the still unconfirmed sixth season of True Blood may hold without the hands-on participation of its fearless leader. While Ball will still watch over the series, there will be one less guiding hand in the sexy cookie jar. And worry all you want, TB fans, but everything’s going to be just fine.
There’s the matter of drastically different qualities amongst these examples: True Blood’s real draw is its premise, whereas with The West Wing and Seinfeld, dialogue and story (or lack thereof) required a lot more heavy lifting from the behind-the-scenes team. Then, there’s the very recent example of AMC’s The Walking Dead, whose visionary showrunner and creator Frank Darabont was cut loose midway through production on Season 2. The news broke quickly and fans were in an uproar – how could we go on without the wisdom of Papa Frank? But as soon as the series premiered, it was obvious that the show really could go on. The Season 2 premiere shattered previous records for AMC (and TWD’s first season), with a whopping 7.1 million viewers. And when the second (Darabont-less) half premiered on Feb. 13, the series broke records yet again with 8.1 million viewers. Chalk it up to a killer brand and premise if you will, but it’s obvious that Darabont taught his underlings well: the second half of the season is simply fantastic.
In his statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Ball expresses a similar level of faith in his remaining staff, “Because of the fantastic cast, writers, producers and crew, with whom I have been lucky enough to work these past five years, I know I could step back and the show will continue to thrive as I look forward to new and exciting ventures.” And extrapolating from The Walking Dead’s success, it would seem that with Ball taking a backseat to work on his upcoming projects – Cinemax’s Banshee and HBO’s Wichita – True Blood will continue to titillate audiences. And fans should count themselves lucky; at least the series will still enjoy his guiding hand; he’s simply graduating to the guardian angel of vampire coupling, if you will.