AMC is pushing deeper into original drama development, ordering a pair of dramas to go into production in the second quarter of 2010.

The higher profile of the two pilots is "The Walking Dead," based on the comic series by Robert Kirkman.

Frank Darabont ("The Shawshank Redemption") wrote the pilot script and will direct and executive produce along with Gale Anne Hurd of Valhalla Motion Pictures. David Alpert from Circle of Confusion will also executive produce.

Kirkman's comic premiered in 2003 and has won a legion of fans and critical raves for its harsh and unflinching depiction of a world overrun by zombies and the increased desperation of the few surviving humans. The series' focus is Rick Grimes, a former police officer and while there are dozens of other human characters, it's best not to get too attached to most of them. In "The Walking Dead," anybody can die at any time.

AMC originally won the rights to develop the "Walking Dead" series, originally set up at NBC last August.

Also getting a pilot order from AMC is "The Killing," adapted from the Danish series "Forbrydelsen." Adapted by Veena Sud, "The Killing" is based on the murder of a young girl and the subsequent police investigation.

"'The Walking Dead' and 'The Killing' are alone in their class in terms of the quality of the storytelling. Both have remarkable talent behind them, and present that rare opportunity to raise the bar significantly within a genre. It is a very exciting next step in our continuing commitment to presenting smart, sophisticated storytelling with broad appeal," states Joel Stillerman, AMC's senior vice president of original programming, production and digital content.

While a pilot order is not, of course, the same as a series order, with AMC that's been roughly the same thing. To date, AMC has ordered three drama pilots. You've probably heard of "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men." The third pilot, "Rubicon," has been ordered to series and will premiere on AMC this summer.

"In a short time AMC has become known for telling the best stories on television," says Charlie Collier, president and general manager of AMC. "Today's announcement underscores the network's commitment to working with the premier talent in the industry and further supports AMC's commitment to being the home for premium television on basic cable."