TONIGHT: The Walking Dead returns a winner

Among the many things I liked about The Walking Dead when it premiered last year: it was a six episode season.
I’m down with that U.K. series length, I knew it was something I could possibly catch beginning to end.
Which I did, with my 18-year-old son, who was nuts for this series.
The Walking Dead returns tonight at 9 p.m. on AMC with a 90-minute Season Two kickoff. There will be seven episodes this fall, with another six airing starting in February. If I can commit to six, I can do 13.
Haven’t had a chance to screen it yet, but contacted a few U.S. critics who have and word back is that the series is better than ever.
April MacIntyre, editor of Monsters & Critics, says Season Two exceeds Season One and calls the series a “great popcorn thriller for smart people.” The new season finds Georgia deputy sheriff Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) leading his family–wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and son Carl (Chandler Riggs) as well as about a dozen other survivors, out of Atlanta in a post-apocalyptic world crawling with zombies. Among the other survivors is Grimes’ former best friend and wife snatcher Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal) and group hunter and former redneck Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus). MacIntyre aptly identifies Reedus, Lincoln and Bernthal as “the alpha male trinity that lead the survivors, each with their own agenda.”
Sure, The Walking Dead features plenty of cool zombies, says MacIntyre, but it is more than great makeup and effects (thanks to Greg Nicotero and crew). “The beauty of this series is the intelligence in the writing, the psychological sparring and the adrenalized action that each castmember faces. It is smart gore, high brow horror, and reveals the best and the worst in humanity when life is on the line.”
For more on tonight’s season premiere, including the back story on departing executive producer Frank Darabont, check out this feature I wrote for Sunday’s Toronto Star.

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