TV review: The Walking Dead

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From the February 7, 2013 edition

“The Walking Dead” recaptured my affection with the first half of Season 3, but I’m not sure how long that will last. Last fall “The Walking Dead” managed to ramp up the zombie action in almost every episode, add some exciting new characters and — most importantly — give the series a much needed boost of momentum.

Then AMC announced showrunner Glen Mazzara wouldn’t be returning to “The Walking Dead” after Season 3, and I became concerned. This is the second showrunner, Frank Darabont being the first, to “leave” and this many chefs in the kitchen could take away the show’s identity — if it ever really had one.

Sunday’s winter premiere isn’t the most exciting outing of “The Walking Dead,” but it’s not intended to be. The majority of the plot deals with the fallout of Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his gang’s assault on the Governor (David Morrissey) and his complex/town of Woodbury. The biggest cliffhanger, Merle (Michael Rooker) versus Daryl (series MVP Norman Reedus), is resolved within the first few minutes.

The remainder of the hour focuses on setting up future plots and fostering characters. (In fact, there’s only one fantastic zombie kill, thanks to Steven Yeun’s Glenn.) Still, it’s a necessary episode because as fun as zombie killing and gunfights are, characters are the most crucial. “The Walking Dead” has never been great with character development, but it’s gotten better lately. Sunday’s episode does some decent work with Rick and the Governor, while fully introducing the new group that infiltrated the prison. Chad L. Coleman (Cutty from “The Wire”!) plays the new group’s leader Tyrese and is a wonderful addition to the cast.

I have reservations about where “The Walking Dead” is heading, but for right now I’m in. These last eight episodes were all produced with Mazzara at the helm. We’ll have to wait until Season 4 to see if new showrunner Scott Gimple can keep up the show’s recent good work.