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The Walking Dead Brings Zombies to Primetime

By Jac Kern · February 8th, 2012 · Television
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When filmmaker George Romero directed 1968’s Night of the Living Dead, he surely had no clue zombies would turn into a cultural phenomenon. While tons of horror films give way to camp, sex or bad special effects, Living Dead remains a classic and has prompted a cult of the zombie-obsessed.

Somehow, despite the absurdity of regenerated dead people, it caught on — and the same goes for The Walking Dead (9 p.m. Sundays, AMC). Who would have guessed more than 40 years after Living Dead, the Mad Men channel would feature a zombie primetime show? And that it’d become AMC’s most successful original series to date?

Based on Robert Kirman’s outstanding comic, The Walking Dead follows a group of survivors living day-to-day during a zombie apocalypse. Like many zombie tales before it, the audience is thrown into the story without any real understanding of how the dead came back to life.

Let’s forget about the zombie fanatics for a second (they’ll watch and either love every moment or nitpick it into oblivion). Why would the average channel-surfer watch The Walking Dead? As AMC’s slogan goes, story matters here.

Is there gore? Of course. Tons of it. The scenes AMC is able to get away with are shocking, but I guess there’s an undead loophole. For every head shot, disembowelment and cannibal buffet, there’s human drama, beautifully filmed scenes and subtle dialogue. The scenes sans-walkers are usually filled with more terrifying tension than the most graphic zombie attack. Your butt cheeks will be clenched for a solid hour.

This weekend, you can catch up on it all: A Season 1 marathon begins 8 p.m. Saturday, and Season 2 starts at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, leading up to the mid-season premiere. 

“What about shows with just humans,” you ask? Those exist too.

Here’s a few:

WEDNESDAY FEB. 8

Law & Order: SVU (10 p.m., NBC) – A reality TV producer is accused of raping one of his stars. Didn’t that happen on The Real World or something?

Top Chef: Texas (10 p.m., Bravo) – An eliminated chef-turned-Last Chance Kitchen winner returns to the competition.

THURSDAY FEB. 9

30 Rock (8 p.m., NBC) – In this hour-long episode, Liz and Criss buy a dinner table for Valentine’s Day while Jenna prepares for her debut on America’s Kidz Got Singing.

Archer (10 p.m., FX) – Archer gets a Batmobile-esque spy car for his birthday.

Delocated (midnight, Cartoon Network) – “Jon” gets involved with the Wang Gang, spewing Asian stereotypes all along the way.

FRIDAY FEB. 10

Who Do You Think You Are? (8 p.m., NBC) – Thank God there’s a show where celebrities travel around the world and track down their ancestors. How else would they have the resources to do so? This week: Marisa Tomei.

Inside the Actors Studio (8 p.m., Bravo) – Brad Pitt joins James Lipton. Drinking game suggestion: Sip your drink whenever Lipton lives up to Will Ferrell’s old SNL spoofs.

Portlandia (10 p.m., IFC) – A local band decides they need a gimmick, enlists a new musician and acquires an obsessed fan (Mel, Flight of the Conchords?).

SATURDAY FEB. 11

Charlie Brown Valentine Double Feature (8 p.m., ABC) – Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Valentine put the “good grief” in Valentine’s Day.

Saturday Night Live (11:30 p.m., NBC) – Everyone’s dream girlfriend Zooey Deschanel hosts; YouTube sensations/cutesy cover artists/now a real band Karmin performs.

SUNDAY FEB. 12

Grammy Awards (8 p.m., CBS) – LL Cool J hosts (for real). Performers include Adele, Paul McCartney, Coldplay, Rihanna, Foo Fighters and many more. #whoisarcadefire?

House of Lies (10 p.m., Showtime) – When his son Roscoe is charged with sexual harassment for kissing another boy in class, Marty makes that school his bitch.

Angry Boys (10 and 10:30 p.m., HBO2) – Will Tim, S.mouse and Blake make it to Nathan’s going away party? This finale might leave you with a case of the sads, but we truly get a sense of the heart in these characters … along with a catchy song that will never be appropriate for you to sing out loud.


CONTACT JAC KERN: jkern@citybeat.com


 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
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