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The Kings Share Four-Year Plan For 'BrainDead'

Michelle and Robert King, masterminds behind the late, great Good Wife, hope to be in it for the long haul in terms of summer series BrainDead. The show is a bizarre mix of politics and sci-fi and horror, with bugs eating the brains of Beltway insiders. Addressing reporters in New York June 6, the Kings divulged a four-season plan for the drama, which debuts the first of 13 episodes on CBS June 13. While season one is set in Washington, season two takes on Wall Street, three visits Silicon Valley, and four tackles Hollywood.

Of course, that means the show does enough ratings to merit the renewals. Despite its off the wall concept, Michelle says CBS was behind BrainDead from the get-go. “The surprising part was that they were immediately receptive,” she notes. “They immediately jumped in and said, oh, politics and sci fi! We’re in.”

The pair had one golden rule for their first post-Good Wife undertaking—they were not doing a traditional 22-episode season. “It is soul crushing and we wanted to have our souls intact,” Robert says.

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The idea for the show came from watching the GOP-Democrat stalemate unfold in Washington, and envisioning the inertia as a result of a terrifying virus that caused people to behave in strange, illogical, unproductive ways. “The connection we made in our minds was, that’s the way horror movies work,” Robert says, citing Invasion of the Body Snatchers. “That’s a very strong metaphor for what happens a lot in DC.”

Both Republicans and Democrats will get their share of body blows on BrainDead. “It’s really about how extremism is endangering politics,” says Robert. “And it’s not just a phenomenon on the right.”

The writers have a pair of political insiders offering their Beltway technical expertise. There are also entomologists on call to help with details about the brain-eating bugs. “It’s a very odd writers’ room in that way,” says Robert.

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The cast includes Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Danny Pino, Aaron Tveit and Tony Shalhoub.

The Kings weren’t saying much about the spinoff of The Good Wife planned for CBS All Access. They’ll write the pilot, but won’t be on the project long term. Michelle acknowledged some “very preliminary” work done on the pilot.

Both Kings spoke of the physical nature of BrainDead, and were pleased to take the shooting to various external locations—to get some fresh air, and exercise some different muscles. “With The Good Wife, you can feel like your brain is falling apart when you’re shooting that much in the courtroom,” he says.

With BrainDead, it might be those bugs that make your brain fall apart.

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.