But I'll start off with AMC's The Walking Dead, a startling good adult take on a post-apocalyptic world filled with zombies.
Waking up in an empty hospital after weeks in a coma, County Sheriff Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) finds himself utterly alone. The world as he knows it is gone, ravaged by a zombie epidemic. The Walking Dead tells the story of the weeks and months that follow after the apocalypse.
After watching the first five episodes (of the initial 6-episode run), I can say that it's the best new show on television. Period. Apparently millions of viewers agree as the first episode (which aired on Halloween night) was the highest rated cable show ever for those in the 18 - 49 age bracket. Fran even loves it! A total of 5.5 million viewers watched Sunday's episode, which is 15% more then the crowd that watched the fourth episode. The season finale airs this coming Sunday, but if you missed the Dead Wagon the first time around... don't fret. AMC will be airing all five previous episodes marathon-style before the finale on Sunday. Check your local listings for the time.
TWD is based on Robert Kirkman's comic book series of the same name. The television adaptation is written and executive produced by three-time Academy Award-nominee Frank Darabont - he of the great Steven King versions of The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and The Mist. Kirkman is executive producing with Darabont, Gale Anne Hurd (The Terminator, Aliens), David Alpert, and Charles "Chic" Eglee (Dexter). So there's a bona fide kick ass creative team behind this show.
With zombies comes gore. It's a necessity. Much like malt and hops are a necessity to make beer. The great thing about this particular show is that they don't do gore for the sake of doing gore. There are some heinous scenes to be sure, but the series isn't about killing zombies in the most grotesque splatterirific way possible... it's about the living, breathing humans left behind in the aftermath of the apocalypse. It's brilliantly executed and at times emotionally draining.
Sadly, AMC only half-heartedly bet on the success of TWD. They're no doubt kicking themselves in the arse right about now for not at least doubling down and going for 12 or 13 episodes in the first season. Ratings for this zombie-fest continue to climb faster then the national debt and only a few weeks after the premiere episode AMC ordered an additional 13 episodes. TWD is such a hit that Fox International Channels also renewed the series after record-breaking premiere ratings in over 120 countries.
Aaaah, but there's a twist. It's uncertain as to when those next 13 episodes will be ready for public consumption. While AMC has not officially announced when the next season will go into production, rumors persist that it won't air until October of 2011 to coincide with AMC's annual Fearfest.
A word of advice to AMC: this would not only suck badly, but would also be a very, very, very bad idea.
We all know that TV executives are, well... idiots. Every year they repeatedly prove to the viewing public that they have zero clue as to what we the people actually like to watch. Let me reiterate that. The people I'm referring to are not the same sheeple who watch "reality" shows like Dancing with the D-List Has Beens, Sing for Your Supper Suckah, or The Hardashians. In many ways TV execs are like politicians really. So waiting an entire year to get new episodes of The Walking Dead on the air would kill (pardon the pun) the incredible support - hell, let's call it a world-wide phenomena - this show has managed to garner in such a short time. And any exec at AMC who thinks differently should be forced to take a bullet to the head. Cuz everyone knows the only way to kill a zombie, politician, or TV exec is to put a bullet through their brain pan.
Besides being a great show, there's a lot of interesting social networking going on around TWD as well. The website is replete with behind the scenes pictures and video interviews with producers and actors. Games, contests and smart phone apps are also available. There's even a Facebook page, a blog and a podcast. Oh, but it doesn't stop there! There are Twitter accounts for not just the show itself (http://twitter.com/WalkingDead_AMC), but many of the main characters (i.e., Sheriff Rick Grimes, Lori Grimes, Andrea, Glenn, Merle, Zombies, etc.) are tweeting as though they are really alive in a post-zombie apocalyptic world. It's pretty damn neat! You can see the list of TWD twitterers here.
With all that said... The Walking Dead gets a resounding FIVE BASHES TO THE HEAD!
Brew Suggestion for TWD
Much like Highlander "there can be only one." And that one is Dead Guy Ale from the Rogue Brewery in Newport, Oregon. Could there be any beer more appropriate? No.
There's an interesting back story to how Dead Guy was born. The logo was created as a tap sticker to celebrate the Mayan Day of the Dead for Casa U Betcha in nearby Portland, Oregon. The design proved to be so popular that Rogue decided to make it the label for their Maierbock ale.
Today, Dead Guy Ale is a German style Maibock that weighs in at a very respectable 6.6% ABV, and contains 40 International Bittering Units that gives it just enough hop kick to the head.
Dead Guy is made from malts with exotic names like Northwest Harrington, Klages, Maier Munich and Carastan - all of which could be places full of zombies. Perle and Saaz hops are added, along with yeast named after my favorite video game growing up as a child (Pacman). It's all brewed up in nothing but free range coastal water. Free range coastal water... get it?
Now that you know about the coolest new show on the Boob Tube, be sure to "Spread the Dead," cuz "The Dead has Spread!"