"Walking Dead" beat everything except fooball Sunday night with a 3.8 rating in adults 18-49.
By contrast the special Sunday edition of Fox's "X Factor" only pulled a 3.4.
The next highest rated scripted series was "Desperate Housewives with a puny 2.7.
"Dead's" 3.8 beats the 3.6 "Jersey Shore" brought in last week or the 3.7 it hit the week before, making "Walking Dead" cable's top-rated non-football series on any night!
Apparently tonight’s 90-minute “Walking Dead” season premiere was originally two hourlong episodes, the first written by now-fired series mastermind Frank Darabont and the second by Robert Kirkman, who co-created the “Walking Dead” comic book series.
The credits on tonight’s 90-minute installment appear on screen thusly:
Written by Ardeth Bey
Written by Robert Kiirkman
Directed by Ernest Dickerson
"Ardeth Bey" is apparently Frank Darabont’s pseudonym, a fake name supplied presumably to distance himself from the finished product. Type Ardeth Bey into the search box at IMDb and watch whose page comes up.
I’m told the first 16 minutes or so of tonight’s episode were cannibalized from what was supposed to be the original Darabont-scripted second-season premiere. The balance of tonight’s 90 minutes comes from what was originally the subsequent season-two episode Kirkman scripted.
I’m told also it was the now-truncated original second-season premiere, presumably directed by Horder-Payton from Darabont’s teleplay, that precipitated Darabont’s ouster.
If the production of the season premiere seems awfully early for AMC to start thinking about dismissing the Oscar-nominated writer-director who gave the channel by far its biggest hit, it may help to remember a Deadline Hollywood story that appeared a few days before AMC aired the first-season finale.
The Deadline story suggested Darabont was considering going forward in season two without a regular writing staff; word was he might instead work on future scripts with freelancers only.
But as spring rolled around, word came that there would be a second-season “Dead” writing staff. Kirkman, credited with the teleplay of the first-season “Vatos” episode, would continue to script episodes. Greg Mazzara, showrunner on Starz’ critically reviled TV version of “Crash,” was hired onto the “Dead” writing staff.
Around the time “Dead’s” second season went into production, and about a month before Darabont’s firing, Deadline interviewed Darabont. An exerpt:
DEADLINE: [I]t made headlines last November when you dumped your entire writing staff after finishing up Season One.
DARABONT: Let me just begin by stating the obvious: that it was all pretty overblown. It left the impression that I walked in one day and murdered 12 people. Would you like to know how many writers we were talking about? Two. My thought had been that they’d under-delivered, and a change was necessary. I had to do too much of it by myself last year, and that was only six episodes. This season, it’s 13 and we’ve hired a fantastic writing staff. We hired Glen Mazzara as our Number Two in the room. We consider him our head writer and he’s just a fantastic asset. We’ve also got three other staff writers in Scott Gimple [“FlashForward,” “Chase”], Evan Reilly from Rescue Me, and Angela Kang [“Terriers”]. Plus Executive Producer Robert Kirkman, who wrote the original comic book, is also writing for us.
The show went into production on its second season in June. Sources say an early episode came in with footage that was not usable. The director had shot a successful first-season episode and was a mutually agreed-upon choice. Darabont was editing the episode in an effort to fix it but by then, an insider believes, AMC was looking for a pretext [for firing Darabont].
That director is presumably Horder-Payton, who directed last year’s third “Walking Dead” episode, “Tell It To The Frogs,” which reunited Rick with his long-lost wife Lori. Horder-Payton has directed 32 hours of episodic television since 2007, including installments of “Battlestar Galactica,” “The Shield,” “Fringe,” “Criminal Minds,” and “Sons of Anarchy.”
Dickerson, who directed quite a number of episodes of “Dexter” and “Treme,” helmed “Dead’s” fifth 2010 episode, “Wildfire,” which brought Rick and Lori to the steps of the Center For Disease Control. According to IMDb, Dickerson not only co-directed tonight’s “Dead” episode, he directed next Sunday’s (“Bloodletting”) and the one after that (“Save The Last One”).
I’m told Darabont was still showrunner on “Walking Dead” during the shooting of "Save The Last One/".
Phil Abraham, who directed nine episodes of “Mad Men” but was not involved with “Walking Dead’s” first season, directed “Cherokee Rose,” which is now the fourth episode of “Dead’s” second season, according to IMDb.
Mazzara reportedly replaced Darabont as “Dead” showrunner on July 25.
The first 16 minutes gets tonight’s episode off to a terrific start. Rick Grimes says “Christ!” at about the 12-minute mark. as depicted in this promo:
The 90-minute premiere ends with a bang.
Tomorrow’s long awaited second-season premiere of “The Walking Dead” may be the best of the series to date, loaded as it is with suspense, terror, violence, drama, and, above all, a level of gore that we don’t see often even in a hour of pay cable.
A couple of things happen that are destined to change things rather permanently for lawman Rick Grimes.
The first two episodes don't bring a prison, or a governor, or the return of Michael Rooker's one-handed racist Merle Dixon -- and viewers aren't likely to care.
Ironically, I think this may be the episode that got Frank Darabont fired, since two directors are credited. A key point of contention with AMC, allegedly, is the channel didn’t like the raw footage (or “dailies”) they were getting from a director Darabont hired.
Ttwo minutes and 13 seconds from tomorrow's premiere:
9 p.m. Sunday. AMC.