23. The Walking Dead
Air Dates: October 31, 2010 - Present
Best Episode: "Pilot" (October 31, 2010)
A television show about zombies? Any George A. Romero fanboy will tell you that, prior to AMC's The Walking Dead, such a proposition was unheard of. After all, TV producers only care about medical dramas, cop shows, and domestic sitcoms, right? Not the brave souls in the AMC offices, who continued their daring streak of green-lighting dark, cutting-edge adult dramas (Mad Men, Breaking Bad) by giving acclaimed filmmaker Frank Darabont the go-sign to adapt Robert Kirkman's beloved Image Comics title.
It's easy to see why AMC took the risk—The Walking Dead, as Kirkman lays it out, isn't about the zombies as much as its about the living characters. Led by do-gooder sheriff Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), the show's band of random survivors drives the hour-long pressure cooker, quarreling with each other while trying to stay alive amidst the flesh-eater takeover.
The first season's ratings were through the roof, but, only given six episodes to establish Kirkman's densely layered world, The Walking Dead had its fair share of issues last year, most notably a lack of tonal cohesion. But one thing that remained effective was Greg Nicotero's killer zombie makeup and gore effects, which, to hear the actors themselves tell it, reaches insane new heights in Season Two. Consider us stoked.