If you’re anything like me, you read the headline “Frank Darabont Will Helm New TNT Show L.A. Noir” and immediately thought of the Rockstar Video game, L.A. Noire. Unfortunately, this show has nothing to do with the game but fans will find similarities.

Darabont has just signed to write and direct the pilot episode of a drama set in 1940s and 1950s Los Angeles about the conflicts between the LAPD and organized crime. After that he’ll slide into a producer role, much like he did for the first season of The Walking Dead, helping catapult that show into one of the biggest on cable TV.

Of course, Darabont no longer works on The Walking Dead after a very public departure from AMC’s zombie hit this summer, but he’s recently come out and explained about how he wanted to start the second season. Read about L.A. Noir and Darabont’s scrapped Walking Dead opening after the jump.

Let’s start with the actual news first. Variety broke the story about L.A. Noir, which will be based on a book by John Buntin. It’s just an order for a pilot but, under the eye of Darabont, I’d be very surprised if the period crime drama didn’t get picked up. TNT executive Michael Wright said this to Variety:

The story of ‘L.A. Noir’ is inspired by an incredibly dramatic period in the history of Los Angeles. This project is a sweeping tale of the battle for the soul of the city that was waged between the forces of the LAPD and the West Coast mob.

That’s happening, here’s something that’s not.

Darabont recently emailed Ain’t It Cool News to confirm a Crave Online story about his proposed opening to The Walking Dead’s second season. It’s a long, awesome read, and I urge you to go there to read it all. Here’s just a taste to get you to click. This is Darabont:

I wanted to kick off the 2nd season with the flashback episode Sam describes, which would have followed a squad of Army Rangers getting trapped in the city and trying to survive as Atlanta falls.

The idea was to do this with a very focused “you are there” documentary feel. Not going all shaky-cam, but still making it a bit rawer and grainier than the rest of the show. We’d start with a squad of maybe seven or eight soldiers being dropped into the city by chopper. They have map coordinates they need to get to; they’ve been told to report to a certain place to provide reinforcement. It’s not a special mission, it’s basically a housekeeping measure putting more boots on the ground to reinforce key intersections and installations throughout the city. And we follow this group from the moment the copter sets them down. All they have to do is travel maybe a dozen blocks, a simple journey, but what starts as a no-brainer scenario goes from “the city is being secured” to “holy shit, we’ve lost control, the world is ending.” Our squad gets blocked at every turn and are soon just trying to survive. I wanted to do a really tense, character-driven ensemble story as communications break down, supply lines are lost, escape routes are cut off, morale falls apart, leadership unravels, mutinies heat up, etc. (Yes, this approach owes a spiritual debt to a number of great films, including Walter Hill’s Southern Comfort.)

Along the way, I thought we could briefly dovetail this story with a few established characters from the show. Not to overdo that, mind you, because it could get silly and too coincidental if you load too much into that idea. But I thought it would be great to veer off on a quick narrative detour that brushes our soldiers briefly up against some people we know.

It goes on from there, in great detail, including the huge twist that would have ended the episode. Of course, this didn’t happen and while season 2 has been entertaining so far, it’s failed to expand on the potential scope of the series like that opening would have.

Are you excited for Darabont’s new show? Do you like his idea for the season opener?

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