Original programs like Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and The Walking Dead are among AMC Networks’ success stories on its namesake channel – and now the company is beginning to branch out, bringing scripted originals to its Sundance Channel as well. The two-part miniseries Restless, starring Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery, premiered on the Sundance Channel last December; Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake will bow in March.
Next on the list: Rectify, a six-episode series created by Oscar-winning filmmaker Ray McKinnon and produced by Mark Johnson and Melissa Bernstein – the celebrated team behind Breaking Bad. The story follows Daniel Holden (Aden Young), an alleged murderer who finds himself exonerated and released from prison after 19 years on death row.
“You’ll often see somebody who gets out of prison, exonerated or not, and somebody will say, ‘What do you want to do now?’ And he’ll say, ‘I want a steak dinner and to go see my mother. What Ray said [to me] is, ‘I want to know what happens the next day,’” Johnson said in a phone interview, explaining what drew him to the series.
“The character [Daniel] in many ways is sort of like Chauncey Gardiner, or even Forrest Gump,” he continued. “He’s a little bit of this manchild – not because he’s in any way impaired. The world that he’s now in is completely new to him.”
And Daniel, of course, is only part of the puzzle. “What fascinated me is not so much what happens with him, but what happens with everybody around him,” Johnson said. Get a taste of how the ex-con’s release affects his friends, family, and neighbors in this exclusive Rectify trailer:
One thing you shouldn’t expect to see in Sundance’s upcoming show? Similarities to Breaking Bad – even though the two series share a producing team. “Breaking Bad is about as unique a show as there possibly can be, which is one of the things I’m so hugely proud of,” Johnson told EW, saying that the two aren’t really alike “thematically or even stylistically.” Then again, there is one thing they share: “I think if you were going to go in and pitch either one of those to a studio executive at a movie studio,” he said, “you’d probably get thrown out the door.” Viva cable!
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