REVIEW: The Walking Dead TV2, Wednesdays, 10.30pm.
The previous season of The Walking Dead slowed to the shambling pace of one of the zombies of the title, and the show may have shed viewers as a result - which could be why the third season has been pushed back to a bedtime slot. Or maybe it's because the body count in the first few episodes has outstripped the first two seasons put together.
Actually, those who complained about the second season being slow missed the point. After the first season set everything up, the second was an exercise in looking at how the survivors adapted, bickered, schemed, suffered various setbacks, and battled to stay together. Sure, there were a lot of strained conversations, but there was still enough gore to keep horror fans happy - the bit where a decaying zombie had to be fished out of a well put me off my dinner for days.
Things seemed to be looking up for former sheriff Rick, kindly veterinarian Hershel and their blended band of survivors, until their refuge on Hershel's farm was overrun by the undead.
Now, they appear to have found refuge behind the walls of a prison (I'm surprised that Rick didn't know of its existence all along, being an ex-cop).
A few of the inmates had survived, but were obviously dangerous - during their first zombie-killing assignment, they ignored the advice of Rick and his redneck right-hand man Daryl to go for the head, and started stabbing and kicking as if they were in a prison riot - so most of them had to go, too.
Not that they were the first to meet a messy end during the cusp of the two seasons. First, there was the heartbreaking reappearance and death of "little girl lost" Sophia. Then Rick's unhinged deputy Shane was bumped off, quickly followed by the death of the group's conscience, Dale.
Poor old Herschel inherited his mantle, and got off lightly with having part of his leg messily amputated after a zombie bite.
Meanwhile, fellow survivor Andrea, who became separated from the group during their flight from the farm, has teamed up with the coolest character yet - Michonne, who wastes zombies with a samurai sword and keeps a couple as her "pets" (with jaws and arms removed so they can't cause any mischief).
They've stumbled upon a town that seems like a safe haven from the zombies, but one of the inhabitants is Daryl's no-good brother Merle, who was left for dead by Rick in the first season. And the leader of the town is a sinister chap called "the Governor", played by David Morrissey, last seen dancing and lip-synching around the English seafront in the oddball comedy-drama Blackpool.
The pace is quicker and the head-smashing and splattering are more intense this time - and the zombie apocalypse is far from over. It looks like being an exciting ride.
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