Walking Dead’ breathes new life into television

By Andrew Canales

Zombies, love triangles and an apocalypse? Sounds like a run-of-the-mill, low-budget horror flick in the darkest caves of your Netflix account.

For AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” however, it is a recipe for success.

The zombie thriller exploded back onto the scene on Oct. 14, netting 10.9 million viewers and a 5.8 rating in the adults 18-49 demographic during its season three premiere.

Both figures are season-highs for any entertainment series this fall, both broadcast and cable.

The numbers come as a surprise because what was supposed to hold “The Walking Dead” back is instead keeping it alive.

Doubts surrounding the Frank Darabont-produced series circled largely around the uncertain success of a show focused on zombies. How could Darabont translate Robert Kirkman’s graphic novels into a television series that could grab viewers’ attention past Halloween?

Two seasons in, the answer is fairly simple.

It is difficult to avoid success with a balanced combination of stellar acting, unrelenting thrills and a splash of spine-chilling gore. And “The Walking Dead” has perfected it.

Fans wanted more zombie-slaying gore and their wishes were granted. Season three got off to a bloody good start, leaving fans feeling as if they were playing a “Resident Evil”-style video game.

Andrew Lincoln and Sarah Wayne Callies are back as Rick and Lori Grimes, respectively, for the third time, leading the rest of the survivors in their quest to find shelter in the zombie-ridden south.

The third season also features the introductions of two pivotal characters in the series: The Governor, portrayed by David Morrissey, and Michonne, the Danai Gurira-played character who made her debut at the end of season two.

The Governor is the primary antagonist in the comic book series and figures to take on the same sort of role in the television version.

Morrissey has a lot to live up to, however, as The Governor was ranked among the top comic book villains of all time by IGN in 2009.

Michael Rooker resumes his role as Merle Dixon, the feather-ruffling brother of fan favorite Daryl Dixon (portrayed by Norman Reedus).

Merle vanished from the series in the middle of the first season, but season three trailers teased fans with a glimpse of Rooker’s character.

The haunting drama has expanded its game, making its first appearance at Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights this October.

The takeover is a testament to the devoted fan base that, judging by the number of viewers, just cannot get enough.

“Talking Dead,” the post-show program hosted by Chris Hardwick, features a half hour of episode recaps, celebrity appearances and just a pinch more gore for fans itching for an extra dose.

Hardwick’s show saw an 85 percent increase in viewership from season two following the season three premiere, drawing 2.1 million viewers.

Already featuring smash-hits “Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men,” AMC bolstered the middle of its lineup with “The Walking Dead,” creating a murderer’s row of three of television’s best drama series.

“The Walking Dead” airs the third episode of the third season this Sunday at 9 p.m. PST on AMC.

Walking Dead

Courtesy AMC

Walking Dead

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