The zombies are back, but are they dead on arrival?
The zombie drama of the moment, The Walking Dead, returns to the UK’s FX channel tonight, mere days after it lurched back to life in the States. The first run was a gory sensation, renewed after only one episode, and the second season premiere has already shattered records for drama viewing figures on basic cable. (No, I’m not entirely sure what “basic cable” means either.)
But there have been rumours of behind the scenes strife: budget problems, the sudden departure of executive producer Frank Darabont. Should we be as wary of this new season as the characters are of… well, almost everything?
I think the cast and crew have earned some leeway. They still have Robert Kirkman on board, the creator of the original comic book, and that first season was largely very good. (There was one ropey episode, where our heroes stumbled upon an old people’s home being mismanaged by a teenage gang, but other than that.)
Not to mention, Brit export Andrew Lincoln is still on hand as stoic all-American hero Rick Grimes. Considering he was largely known for matey comedy roles until now, it’s strange to see him in this part, but he’s taken to it like a veritable Hugh Laurie. Even the accent is pretty good.
Perhaps most convincing of all, though, we’ve taken a sneak look at the first episode of the new year and it’s great. Back to the basics of survival and heart-stopping zombie tension that made the show popular, leaving the sillier concepts and 24ish action moments aside for now. It also features one of the most raw, unpleasant moments of the whole series to date.
It’s true, we could still witness a second year implosion of Heroes proportions, but for now, the return of The Walking Dead is off to a good start. Catch it starting on FX tonight for seven weeks, and then (like a zombie Doctor Who), it lumbers back for six more episodes in early 2012.
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