AMC’s The Walking Dead is television’s number one rated show among 18-49 year olds, regularly sacking its top time slot rival, Sunday Night Football. The show’s mid-season finale recently aired to its largest audience ever. (Splitting popular TV shows into two chunks, forcing audiences to drool for months in anticipation of the concluding half, is now a common practice on cable). Nearly 15 million viewers tuned in for the episode, only a couple of million less than The Walking Dead's fifth season premiere in October, the highest rating in the show’s history.
That premiere deserved its audience. It was intense, brutally violent and spirited. Rick (Andrew Lincoln), the ex-cop and leader of the group, got his zombie-killing mojo back just in time to face a new threat: cannibalistic human butchers. His splintered crew reunited after a pulse-pounding rescue, only to learn that a few surviving cannibals were pissed about missing dessert. The following seven episodes alternated between blood-gushing, adrenalized set pieces, frequent philisophical ruminations and the occasional sleepy, wheel-spinning interlude.
It’s been clear for the last three seasons that other humans are a greater threat to our cast of regulars than the zombies, who are easily dispatched with a knife thrust to the brain stem. But this season, thanks to Rick finally manning up, the group acts more decisively in dispatching those threats than in previous shows.
Zombies scare the hell out of me. Plague-infected corpses coming back to life are more plausible than ghosts, demons, vampires, aliens or the boogeyman under the bed. The fact that a single nibble from a zombie will eventually turn you into a flesh-eating member of the undead, and that your only hope of survival depends on resorting to mass murder, presents a horrifying dilemma that is both existential and biblical.
That’s why I hate it when people try to have fun with zombies. I didn’t like Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland. I don’t watch The Talking Dead, the 30-minute talk show in which a host interviews the actors (their characters having just been eviscerated in the preceding episode), askig them idiotic questions from fans and to respond to twerpy tweets. Spoofs, satires and campy remakes spoil the mood. But I will dismount my high-horse to see what those jokesters over at the Bad Lip Reading laboratories have come up with, and this one, a “Bad Lip Reading from The Walking Dead, Season Four” is worth the five minutes of your time, and mine.