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“Walking Dead” Season 3 Premiere: Review

It’s the creepiest show on television – and one of the highest-rated – “The Walking Dead” kicked off its third season by consuming the ratings and becoming the highest-rated television series premiere this fall.

Andrew Lincoln as Sheriff Rick Grimes in a scene from “The Walking Dead” season 3 premiere.  

The Season 3 premiere walked away with over 10.9 million total viewers (a 50% increase over last seasons “Walking Dead” premiere) and is now ranked in the basic-cable history books as the biggest telecast of any drama series.

For fans of the show, the stats shouldn’t be a surprise, for viewers new to the show however, a Walking Dead Episode Guide will come in handy. But if you’re like us, you glued yourself to your television screen for possibly the best hour of scripted television currently on air.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead
The Season 3 opener (titled “Seed”) is set a few months ahead of Season 2 and starts as our band of human survivors are scavenging an abandoned house for supplies. As faithful viewers recall, Season 2 abruptly ended with their former sanctuary, going up in flames when it was overrun with zombies. The group is again on the move, critically low on ammunition as well other supplies.

Eventually, their quest rewards them, when they find a maximum-security prison nestled in the woods. The prison’s heavily fortified walls could give the group all the protection it needs. But there’s one problem: The place is crawling with the undead. Zombie prisoners lumber alongside still-uniformed prison guards in riot gear. Rick and team make quick work of the walkers, then find a part (C Block) of the massive prison complex they can seal and guard effectively.

What’s scarier than a zombie? A zombie wearing riot gear.

Search and Destroy
The next day, Rick leads part of the group on an exploratory mission to find the prison commissary and armory. This goes about as well as you’d think it would considering the surprises that lurk around every corner – and to save you the grief of us spoiling too much – a few of those surprises include an team member amputation and zombies, who aren’t quite zombies…

Like every episode of “The Walking Dead” the writing is exceptionally sharp, plus the actors are in their third season stride and have long settled into character. Speaking of characters, “Seeds,” introduces the cloaked figure we got a glance of last season: Michonne is a female warrior whose preferred method of zombie killing is lopping the heads off with her katana. Michonne makes for a very interesting survivor, especially since she always got two zombies in tow, courtesy of a chain around their necks.

The show contains as many soap-opera elements as zombie themes, so the Season 3 opener also had to deal with Rick’s killing of Shane—his former best friend—which was a huge plot development in the series’ history. In “Seeds,” Rick tells Lori (who had a brief affair with Shane in Season 1, when she presumed Rick had died) about what happened and how Shane was about to kill Rick before Rick beat him to the punch. Lori pulls away from Rick in shock and disbelief. This underscores the growing tension between Rick and Lori, which remains a constant drumbeat in the Season Three opener.

Another complication is revealed when Lori confesses to Hershel (who has been the closest thing to a group medic, based on his previous occupation as a veterinarian) that she has grave fears about the health of the baby she’s carrying, including the possibility that the child might be born as a zombie, or could transform into one over time.

Michionne played by actress Danai Gurira will have a major role in season 3.

“Walking” Tall
What’s next for “The Walking Dead”? Tune in each Sunday night at 9pm EST to find out. The show’s third season will be split into two batches. The first eight episodes began with last night’s installment. Afterward, the program will go on hiatus until the spring, when the remaining eight episodes will be presented.

“The Walking Dead” is only beginning its third season but it’s already made TV history. It’s easy to see why; “The Walking Dead” is a gripping story of group survival punctuated with gruesome moments of pure horror. The story is compelling and its often nauseating special effects rival anything put on film. No wonder it’s a hit both with horror fans as well as those interested in learning how to create special effects.

“Walking Dead” Special FX Makeup Designer Greg Nicotero digitally zombified celebrities…such as “Lord of the Rings”/“The Hobbit” director Peter Jackson. (See the rest of the zombie celebrities at AMC’s “The Walking Dead” web site.)

If you haven’t gotten bitten by “The Walking Dead” yet, there’s still plenty of time and opportunities to get up to speed on TV’s greatest thrill-machine. In fact, you can start watching the show from the beginning: NetFlix has each episode from the first two seasons online and available as instant (and commercial-free) streaming video. (And for a brief time, the “Walking Dead” web site has the Season 3 opener online for free viewing whenever you want.)

Check in with us for future updates about “The Walking Dead.” We’re eagerly watching each Sunday night. And just like the zombies, we’re always hungry for more.


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posted by DMA Jordan in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments

Walking Dead Episode Guide: TV’s Hottest Zombies

The second season of AMC’s The Walking Dead has begun. And if the first couple of episodes of the new season are any indication, the show has lost none of the intense power (or popularity) it gathered last season. (No wonder the show has already been renewed for a third season.)

Happy Halloween! Looks like this trick-or-treater took a fall coming off the steps.

For a few years now, cable outlets such as AMC have been home to some of the most engaging shows on television. In its debut season, The Walking Dead quickly rose to the top of the cable ratings. The program is so popular that AMC now features a talk show immediately following Dead‘s Sunday night time slot, where panelist and fans discuss the latest Walking Dead episode and all things “zombie.”

Why has AMC’s The Walking Dead been such a huge hit with audiences and TV critics? Part of it is the show’s excellent production values – from the writing to the acting, it’s one of the best-made shows on TV right now. The other part? The “scare factor.” Combined, they make The Walking Dead possibly the best horror series to ever to appear on television.

High Production Values = High Ratings
The production values are extremely high for serial television – this is how digital filmmaking is done – and it pays off in the ratings. TV has waited a long time for a show this consistently scary; at times it’s even more frightening than many horror movies now playing in theaters.

While the zombie apocalypse is the underlying theme (and one key reason for the popularity) of The Walking Dead, it’s the relationships and journey the characters experience that are the heart of the show. You genuinely care about the cast and the predicaments they face.

The Walking Dead began life as a hugely popular graphic novel.

Making The Walking Dead
It all started with a comic book…er, graphic novel. Robert Kirkman, the creator behind the series, already had huge success with the graphic novel, which has seen a resurgence in popularity due to AMC’s series.

Three-time Oscar nominee Frank Darabont (The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption) developed and launched the series, but a good part of the show’s success has to go to the astounding special effects. The zombies in The Walking Dead will turn your stomach, and their impeccable timing will never bore you: They always show up at just the right moment to peak the suspense and terror.

Sure, zombies don’t always move lightning fast, but when hundreds show up at once (as often happens), it creates an overwhelming effect; everywhere you turn, there’s another dead guy (or gal) – and from every walk of life – with a decomposing face.

The survivors (led by sheriff Rick Grimes) have more than they can handle: a world of undead who are always on the move…and always hungry.

So what if you’re interested in the show but are getting to the party late? No problem; we’ll get you caught up:

The Story
American life as we know it has slipped off the rails. A tide of death—whether from disease or supernatural forces (nobody knows for sure, which makes the premise even that more frightening) has swept the land. Hordes of human undead are now roaming the land in search of flesh to satisfy their zombie hunger. There aren’t many survivors left, but one group in Atlanta has banded together to take on the zombie menace. The group’s priorities are simple: 1) keep themselves alive 2) find a safety zone where they can exist zombie-free; and 3) find the answer as to why all of this zombie madness is happening in the first place.

The Characters
The group changes (based on who lives through the episode) week after week, but here are the major characters you’ll get to know:

  •  Rick: A deputy sheriff from a small Georgia town, Rick serves as the group’s unofficial leader.
  •  Shane: Rick’s partner in law enforcement, and best friend since high school.
  •  Lori: Rick’s wife.
  •  Dale: A retiree, who owns and drives the RV that leads the group’s convoy.
  •  Andrea: A former attorney, she watched as her sister Amy died from a zombie attack.
  •  T-Dog: A former thug, who has become friends with Dale.
  •  Daryl: A survivalist whose favorite zombie weapon is a crossbow.
  •  Carol: A woman who has lost her husband to zombies; her daughter is her only known surviving relative.
  •  Sophia: Carol’s young daughter.
  •  Carl: Rick and Lori’s young son.
  •  Glenn: A former Atlanta pizza-delivery guy, whose navigation skills come in handy.


The Walking Dead Episode Guide

Season 1

Episode 1: As the series begins, county sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes comes out of a lengthy coma to find himself alone in an empty hospital. He slowly realizes that he’s been reborn into a world where the dead—the walking dead—have taken over. He leaves the hospital and starts wandering. Along the way he meets other (live) people, all of whom are living under the threat of imminent zombie attack.

Episode 2: Surviving bands of hungry zombies isn’t easy, as Rick learns when he unknowingly enables a group of survivors to be trapped and savaged by “walkers.” Tensions and accusations follow with the small group of survivors that Rick now leads, and criminals within the group threaten to blow any chance of living through the zombie nightmare.

Glenn and Rick work their way through the undead heard by blending in with the zombies.

Episode 3: Rick doubles back to Atlanta to save a man’s life and get a bag of weapons. Along the way, he is reunited with his wife, Lori, who had assumed that Rick was dead. During that time, she became romantically involved with Shane, Rick’s friend. Now that Rick’s back in the picture, Lori and Shane vow to not tell Rick about their affair and pretend as if nothing had happened between them. (And Rick’s son, Carl, doesn’t know the extent of his mother’s involvement with Shane.)

Episode 4: More things go wrong on the path back to Atlanta, where the group is headed to find the headquarters of the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC), hoping to find scientists alive who can help them. Tensions are escalating, and people are starting to become unglued by all the stress of living in this horrifying new world.

Episode 5: After being attacked by walkers, Rick successfully leads the group to the CDC, but there’s no time to relax. And the group learns that getting to the CDC doesn’t really solve their mounting problems.

Episode 6: After the group makes its way inside the heavily fortified building to temporary safety, the members discover that there’s only one scientist there. What’s worse—he isn’t altogether sure what caused the zombie epidemic…or what to do about it.  

Rick takes a wrong turn on the streets of Atlanta and finds a group of undead in his path. 

Season 2

Episode 7: Season 2 begins in Atlanta at the CDC, with the group realizing that the lone CDC scientist (seeing no solution to the situation) has rigged the massive building with explosives and a timer and the whole thing is set to self-destruct. Making it out with seconds to spare, the group takes its convoy of vehicles out of Atlanta. They soon find the highway jammed to the hilt with abandoned vehicles. Then they are besieged by hundreds of walkers, with one of the survivors (Sophia) being chased by zombies through woods. At Carol’s urging, the group stays camped in the area while the members search for Sophia. As the episode ends, Carl is accidentally shot by a deer-hunting survivor of another group that lives nearby.

Episode 8: In order to save his life, Carl is taken to another group’s farmhouse, where (despite the lack of ample medical supplies) he’s treated. In order for him to be saved, however, they need more supplies and medical equipment- which can only be found at a medical facility in a zombie-infested part of town nearby. The man who accidentally shot Carl leads Shane head to the abandoned medical facility, where they retrieve the supplies. Now there’s just the matter of getting them and themselves back to safety…

Episode 9: The group desperately awaiting Shane’s return, but he can’t get out of a school he’s trapped in (and which is surrounded by the walking dead). Meanwhile, the search continues for Sophia…but the group knows it can’t remain in this area for much longer.

What’s going to happen next?  Tune in to AMC on Sunday nights to find out.

Zombie Comeback
Zombies are white hot right now, and The Walking Dead is one of the reasons why. But zombies have been making a comeback for a few years; videogames like Resident Evil, Dead Rising and the recent Dead Island have been stoking the fire, as well as movies like Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland and 28 Days Later. Sure, the material isn’t for the faint of heart (or the younger set), still the subject matter makes for some great suspense.

You never know where the undead will turn up next – so you better be ready, especially this Halloween.


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posted by DMA Jordan in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments