www.redeyechicago.com/entertainment/tv/redeye-the-walking-dead-season-2-preview-20111014,0,176829.story

redeyechicago.com

SHOW PATROL

Secrets of the 'Dead'

What fans can expect in Season 2 of 'The Walking Dead'

By Curt Wagner

RedEye

7:46 AM CDT, October 14, 2011

Advertisement

Fans of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” were thrilled this summer when the Season 2 trailer hit San Diego Comic-Con and the web. It began with dozens of hungry zombies shuffling after Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal), who stumbles just as the flesh eaters are reaching out to lunch on him.

Believe it or not, the dramatic scene has been cut from the 90-minute Season 2 premiere (8 p.m. Oct. 16, AMC; 3.5 stars) for less flashy but brilliant-in-their-own-way moments. How many TV shows can dump such a chilling chase yet still send shivers up your spine?

I’m happy to report that even in the absence of Frank Darabont, who ushered Robert Kirkman’s acclaimed graphic novel to the small screen last year, “The Walking Dead” can. Its cast, crew and new showrunner, Glen Mazzara, seem to live to thrill. And boy do they succeed in “What Lies Ahead” on Sunday and next week’s “Bloodletting.”

The ghoulies, created by makeup king Greg Nicotero and his team, are just as disgusting as ever, with their sunken eyes, rotting flesh and love for a tasty skin sandwich or raw liver. Speaking of innards, one particular scene in the opener is so nasty I predict audience members will A) cover their eyes, B) squeal with delight, or C) lose their lunch.

At its core, though, the series remains an absorbing survivalist story about the humans in peril. It examines how regular people can adapt and keep their sanity when their world is turned upside down.

The new season opens with the group of survivors led by lawman Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) leaving Atlanta for Fort Benning, where they hope to find an outpost of living humans. Of course they encounter a little bad luck when their caravan breaks down on a highway blocked by abandoned cars.

“This is a graveyard,” Lori Grimes (Sarah Wayne Callies) says as they pick through the ruins for useful items. “I don’t know how I feel about this.”

How they all feel about it, and how they hold on to their humanity in these inhumane conditions, appears to be a central theme in Season 2, as Rick doubts his every decision, the group dynamic begins to disintegrate and they meet several intriguing new characters.

And yes, shortly after Lori utters the quote above, a herd of shuffling stiffs attacks the group. What happens next sets in motion a new season of jump-from-your-seat scares and shivery twists that will leave you breathless.

SECRETS OF THE 'DEAD'

I spoke with"The Walking Dead" stars Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus last week to get an idea of what's coming in Season 2 of the hit series. Here's a somewhat non-spoilery rundown of what you can expect in the upcoming season, culled from those interviews and discussions at San Diego Comic-Con.