This week, we were probably inordinately excited to hear that AMC is planning to air all 18 episodes of The Walking Dead in black and white. This is such a cool idea, especially considering that the original comic was done completely in grayscale line-drawings. Indeed, the network has explained that the black and white treatment is meant to “give the series a Universal Monsters feel as well as mimicking the artistic style of the comic.” The news got us to thinking about some other TV shows we’d like to see get the old-timey treatment — whether based on their period or just their visual style. Click through to see our picks (plus a few doctored screenshots) and let us know what we missed in the comments!
Mad Men is roundly praised for its beauty and design sensibility, its true, but how much of that is due to color and how much to the iconic mid-century shapes? Well, who knows. But we think a black and white palate would nicely underscore the deep darkness of the show, especially in recent seasons. Plus, just think of how brightly Roger Sterling’s hair will shine in monochrome.
Bored to Death
Jonathan Ames’s Jonathan Ames is channelling a Raymond Chandler detective novel in this wacky series, so why not have him commit to the role in black and white? If the monochrome had been built in, the show could have dropped large hints that the lack of color was only in Ames’s mind, but as it stands, we think it would make for a fun re-viewing, the seriousness of black and white both undercutting and enhancing the goofy story lines.
Maybe it’s just us, but we think Twin Peaks could be way weirder, way darker, and way creepier in black and white. And it already has those things in spades.
Obviously, watching this show in black and white would be a nod to its era, and for us that’s enough — the lack of color would make it feel all the more realistic. But on a headier note, maybe the monochrome palate would remind viewers of the all the shifting gray areas of morality in the modern (or not-so-modern) age… too much? Well, either way, we think it would look cool.
We don’t know about you, but any TV show based on the works of Elmore Leonard screams black and white to us — it’s just part of that whole culture of dirty crime fiction that we know and love. Plus, the show already attempts to juxtapose two eras, dropping the prototypical lone sheriff into modern times — so why not complicate the field further?
Sons of Anarchy
Sons of Anarchy already uses so many black and white photos in its promotional material (you’re looking at one of them above, no doctoring necessary), that we can tell it secretly wants to go whole hog. So why not? Everyone looks tougher in black and white.
This show is already a Wild West adventure mashed up with an urban crime series, so why not replay it in a format that showcases both the epic expansiveness of the former and the nitty gritty darkness of the latter? Plus, we just think it would be awesome.
American Horror Story
In the same way that The Walking Dead is using the black and white format to nod to old-time monster movies, American Horror Story could use it to up the horror factor. Come on — doesn’t the shot above look like it could be right out of a Hitchcock film?
It’s just like Justified, only a lot earlier. And thus perhaps even more deserving of old-timey black and white. Plus, doesn’t the monochrome make that sheriff’s star shine?
Listen: The Sopranos is a crime epic. And what’s more epic than black and white? Nothing.