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2. The Walking Dead

Network: AMC
Stars: Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, Steven Yeun, Chandler Riggs, Norman Reedus
Premiere Date: October 16
Why we’re excited: If not for the excellent Season Two trailer, we’d be in a full-fledged state of panic in regards to AMC’s The Walking Dead. As uneven as the show’s six-episode first season was, the ratings monster, which adapts Robert Kirkman’s graphic novel series, is still unlike anything else on television, paying equal credence to intense character development and gory, hardcore horror imagery. So the thought of a lengthened, 13-episode second season is, on the surface, cause for celebration; the world is established, and creator Frank Darabont doesn’t have to worry so much about introducing the show’s various tones on a per-episode basis.

Which brings us to that aforementioned panicked state: Darabont’s out as showrunner, so now he really doesn’t have to worry as much. In his place is Glen Mazzara, who executive produced The Shield; but Mazzara’s coronation didn’t come voluntarily on Darabont’s part. A recent Hollywood Reporter story revealed how AMC is slashing The Walking Dead’s budget and turning its behind-the-scenes process into an artistic nightmare.

How will all of that affect the show itself? That’s the big question looming over Season Two, which reportedly takes place mostly on the farm of a new character, Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson). Darabont himself wrote the October 16th premiere, a positive detail considering that he also wrote the show’s phenomenal pilot episode. So, chances are, The Walking Dead will kick off with a bang; fingers crossed that the backstage drama doesn’t result in the show eating itself alive throughout subsequent episodes.

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