Can ‘Talking With Chris Hardwick’ Change The Format Of TV Talk Shows For The Better?

Getty Image

Aside from Fear the Walking Dead, the only other program spun-off from AMC’s hugely successful The Walking Dead is comedian and podcast host Chris Hardwick’s Talking Dead. Talking Bad, a similar show hinged to the cable network’s Breaking Bad series, briefly extended the chat show’s footprint for eight episodes in 2013, but the original program is all that remains. Or at least that was the case until Wednesday, when AMC announced plans to expand it into a new yearlong series titled Talking with Chris Hardwick, set to premiere April 9th. And considering what the interview format typical of most talk show programs looks like when compared to Hardwick’s podcast origins, this is good news.

On the one hand, the new 60-minute series — which will fill the gaps between The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead‘s seasons — could be a springboard for discussion about other original programs airing on AMC. On the other hand, the talk show’s unique format — which eschews the deliberately short interviews that populate most talk shows for long, drawn-out chats — might inject some much-needed originality into late night. As Hardwick himself put it in the official press release, “Talking will have the skin of Talking Dead, the soul of the Nerdist podcast and the guts of a Comic Con panel.” And perhaps in response to concerns regarding content, he added he “loved learning how to do a talk show these last six years on Talking Dead, but am eager to expand the format into other areas of pop culture.”

“Chris Hardwick is just the ultimate fan guide, advocate and conversationalist,” said AMC and SundanceTV’s Joel Stillerman. Like the host, Stillerman seemingly assuaged possible concerns about whether or not Talking would highlight topics beyond his networks’ own shows: “We are looking forward to expanding our relationship with Chris through this new version of Talking that will allow him to do what he does best — give our viewers a front row seat to some of the biggest topics in pop culture today and a host who has an incomparable affinity for the content they love.”

So if the Talking franchise is allowed to expand beyond its predecessor’s focus on AMC originals, and if Hardwick truly adapts his Talking Dead and Nerdist podcast practices to the show, then it just may breathe some new life into the form. After all, many of Hardwick and Nerdist co-hosts Jonah Ray and Matt Mira’s conversations with their guests have imbibed the spirit of WTF with Marc Maron, the popular podcast that began in 2009. They’ve helped remind listeners that interviews without the 5 to 10-minute restrictions that limit most talk shows prove engaging more often than not, and TV could use that reminder as well.