Can The Walking Dead Rise Again for TV2?

TV2’s gamble on The Walking Dead being a hit fourth time around appears well founded in the wake of the show’s record US ratings over the weekend.

Tonight’s fourth-season premiere at 9.30 reaped 16.1 million viewers for AMC in the face of fierce opposition from live football and baseball.

That was six million more than the audience for AMC’s series finale of Breaking Bad and well above Dead’s previous series high of 12.42 million for its season-three finale.

The episode, 30 Days Without An Accident, was written by new showrunner Scott Gimple, who took over from the exited Glen Mazzara in January.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Scripted competition in The Good Wife and The Mentalist hit their lowest ratings to date, while Once Upon a Time and Revenge sank to fall lows.”

“Sunday night’s telecast outperformed all programmes in the key demographic in primetime so far this season, even including NFL football games,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

“The Walking Dead premiere also generated 1.17 million mentions on Twitter.”

While TVNZ trumpeted its purchase of Dead at a new season programming launch four years ago, rival executives were sceptical of a zombie drama’s appeal in this market.

And for much of the show’s run, they were right.

The first season struggled in a 9.30 midweek slot while the second season foundered so badly the series was consigned to post-10.30.

But the network clearly thinks a re-energised narrative for season three and the recruitment of David Morrissey as the chief villain, coupled with Dead’s afterlife on disc and in re-runs, and the rise of social media as a programming tool, will create the perfect storm for its rediscovery tonight.

Certainly, it will help that the series is going to air only 36 hours after the US, in HD and in a slot where the competition couldn’t be more different: reality on TV One (The School) and lightweight crime on TV3 (Hawaii Five-O).

US reviews have further endorsed TV2’s strategy.

“If the first two episodes are any indication, not only is the series not missing a beat, it’s actually growing into itself to allow new storytelling possibilities,” said THR.

And TV Guide argued Dead  “reinforces its claim as TV’s greatest horror drama by making us care so desperately about the characters’ humanity”.

Echoed Variety: “The Walking Dead clearly appears bigger than any of its expendable parts, and unlike those zombies, has a whole lot of life left in it.”

However, The Washington Post thought the first two hours “serviceable but flat” and the New York Post declared “the gore’s a bore”.

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3 Responses to “Can The Walking Dead Rise Again for TV2?”

  1. Will wait and see but imho they should have canned this show, too many series go on far too long. Last season just got silly with the one-eye guvnor and his minions.

  2. Saw Tuesday’s ep, better than expected but will need to get betterer if I’m to keep watching …

  3. But wasn’t the picture quality dreadful? I checked with TVNZ and they confirmed it was a 1080i broadcast. Walking Dead has always had a frustratingly soft and grainy image but Tuesday’s broadcast looked worse than one of TVNZ’s +1 channels.

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