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Still Talkin TV » Dead Arrives to Enliven Sundays

Dead Arrives to Enliven Sundays

Sarah Wayne Callies and Andrew Lincoln of The ...
Image by Luck the Lady via Flickr

 

Now that Don Draper (Jon Hamm) has announced he is planning to marry his secretary on the season finale of “Mad Men,” AMC is premiering a new 10 p.m. Sunday series that couldn’t be further in taste and style than the Emmy-winning drama.

 It is called “The Walking Dead.”

 And no it isn’t about the Democratic Party prior to Tuesday’s mid-term elections.

 Written and directed by three-time Academy Award nominee Frank Darabont (“Shawshank Redemption”), it’s a series about mad men and women who are roaming the streets of Atlanta as zombies.

 The timing of the 90-minute premiere on Halloween night couldn’t be any better.

Of course, zombie shows always seem to be timely.

They usually follow a familiar formula. “The Walking Dead” doesn’t exactly break new ground. Darabont said in press materials that he is a big fan of George Romero’s 1968 film “Night of the Living Dead” and it shows.

“WD” features a diverse cast of relative no names and faces who are trying to survive while the undead walkers try to catch them and eat them alive.

 The second episode, “Guts,” is an incredibly violent, bloody and fast-paced hour that is built around the theme of the importance of team work for survival.

 It also has some good involving twists – not all of them tastefully handled. I wouldn’t advise anyone to watch immediately after eating pizza, wings or another stomach-turning Bills loss.

 You can practically smell the fear of those trying to escape the clutches of the zombies even before they decide one of the best ways to avoid detection is to smell really, really bad.

Besides the violence, there is a good deal of dry humor and loud action scenes that would wake up the dead.

British actor Andrew Lincoln (see above with co-star Sarah Wayne Callies of “Prison Break”) stars as the sheriff who becomes the leader of a diverse group of survivors holed up in a department store that becomes unsafe after he leads the zombies there. 

Cast members that may look familiar to regular TV viewers include Buffalo’s Jeffrey DeMunn (who is in all of Darabont’s films), Callies (“Prison Break”) and Jon Bernthal (“The Pacific”).

The living trying to escape to a camp outside the big city include one powerful white trash racist.  His ugly attitude in episode two tests the all-for-one beliefs of the other living people, including a highly moral black man who is asked to forgive despicable racial taunts.

 The script resolution of that test is skillfully handled.

 Without breaking new zombie ground, “The Walking Dead” is a fast-paced, well-produced series that provides some thrills and excitement along with a positive message.

 It smells like a hit.

 Rating: 3 stars out of 4

* Welcome to the 21st Century: After co-host Robin Roberts said on “Good Morning America” Thursday that she missed President Obama’s appearance with Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show,” co-host George Stephanopoulos quickly said he watched it online. I’m sure he didn’t mean to tell Roberts to join the internet age, but it sure came out that way.

President Obama’s appearance on “The Daily Show” didn’t make a lot of news but was still the lead of the Thursday morning network programs, with reporters noting that Stewart didn’t treat him as gently as he had in the past.

 That was a given. It is a lot easier to treat a candidate who doesn’t have any power well than it is to treat a president who is being held responsible for what is wrong in America. Stewart always reminds people that he isn’t really a journalist, but he asked the right questions, was fair and allowed the President to talk… and talk … and talk.

Stewart can go places with the President that serious journalists can’t go and that enables his show to have entertainment value as well as educational value. 

The President may have set an unofficial record for using the phrase that Larry David had so much fun with on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” — “having said that.”

Having said that, I thought both Stewart and the President acquitted themselves very well and had to please their constituencies.

 Play ball: San Francisco’s high-scoring victory over Texas in Wednesday’s World Series opener had an 8.5 rating on WUTV, the local Fox affiliate. That is considerably lower than the 12.1 here for Game 1 of last season’s Series between the New York Yankees and Philadelphia. But the Yanks are a big draw here – and just about everywhere.

 pergament@msn.com

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