This is a bit of news that has mostly slipped under the radar: apparently Craig DiGregorio, showrunner on the Starz series Ash vs. Evil Dead, will be moving on after the end of season two. Stepping in to take over the show is Mark Verheiden, a comic book writer who also has an extensive list of credits in film and television. Over the course of his thirty year career, Verheiden has worked with EVIL DEAD creator Sam Raimi and franchise hero Bruce Campbell before, and even wrote a four issue comic book adaptation of the original EVIL DEAD for Dark Horse Comics.
Verheiden's working relationship with Raimi goes back to the 1994 film TIMECOP, which Raimi and his producing partner Robert Tapert produced and which Verheiden wrote, based on his own comic book story. When a short-lived Timecop TV series ran on ABC in 1997, Campbell appeared on an episode. Ten years later, Campbell enlisted Verheiden to write the screenplay for his directorial effort MY NAME IS BRUCE.
Campbell first mentioned Verheiden's involvement with Ash vs. Evil Dead in an Ain't It Cool interview, where he said:
I'm very excited to get Mark involved. It's his writer's room now, he's running the show. ... I've had meetings with Mark and what's important to all of us for the long term health of the show is that we service the secondary characters. Those actors gotta get out of bed going "Cool! Can't wait to do this or that" rather than being the guy who says every fourth line. "Yeah, sounds good, Ash!" or "Come on, let's go!" I think Mark will add a new dynamic to that, too."
Earlier this month, Empire Online got the chance to talk with Verheiden himself, and the new showrunner had this to say about his approach to the next season:
I'm not only familiar with the Evil Dead universe, it's one that I love and I've had a long relationship with many of the principals involved. It was a great fit when the job as showrunner opened up.
We're early into it, and there's a little bit of if it ain't broke, don't fix it, but I think if I have any sort of mandate for myself, it's to change things up a little bit. We don't want to repeat ourselves. It's all the same characters, but we're exploring different ways they can interact, maybe introducing a new character or two into the mix, and challenging them in sort of different ways. But it will still be Evil Dead, it will still be Ash doing his chainsaw-swinging action. Those parts are still very active. I think the big thing is we don't want to do seasons one or two again, we want to be sure that the new season seems fresh, that we're opening up the mythology a little bit and opening the characters up a little bit more, but never losing that Evil Dead flavor."
While getting a new showrunner can sometimes mess a show up, at other times it can be refreshing. Hopefully it will be the latter option in this case. I have loved Ash vs. Evil Dead while it's been under Craig DiGregorio's watch, but I'm interested to see what directions Verheiden might take it in, and I like that Raimi/Tapert/Campbell have brought on someone who they have known and trusted for a long time.
Verheiden's previous TV credits include Smallville, Battlestar Galactica, Heroes, Falling Skies, Hemlock Grove, Constantine, and Daredevil.
There are still a few weeks of Ash vs. Evil Dead season 2 to look forward to, then season three will likely premiere on Starz in the fall of 2017.