Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bloody Premieres of Walking Dead, Dexter, & American Horror Story

With Halloween less than two weeks away, it's as good a time as any to take stock at some of the bloodier offerings on TV right now, more specifically AMC's smash hit The Walking Dead, FX's new buzzy Ryan Murphy show American Horror Story, and Showtime staple Dexter. Ratings-wise they've all started just great this season. The Walking Dead's second season premiere over this past weekend scored 7.3 million total viewers breaking ratings records for basic cable drama in key demos. Meanwhile the pilot for American Horror Story ranked as the most-watched original series premiere in its network's history. Not to be outdone, Dexter had its highest-rated premiere ever, in its sixth season. Not too shabby.

Quality-wise they've all started pretty solidly as well, at least based on just the premiere episodes I've seen. Due to time constraints I haven't seen any follow-up episodes for Dexter and American Horror Story so things might have drastically changed especially for the latter show since it's a) brand new and b) a Ryan Murphy show.

The Walking Dead had the best premiere of the three effortlessly putting its audience right back into the post-apocalyptic zombie-infested world they so successfully introduced last season. The episode started with the group deciding to leave Atlanta in search of something new. Abandoned cars blocking the highway and the group's own mechanical troubles left them momentarily stranded and subsequently exposed to a herd of zombies. What followed was one of the episode's more breathlessly tense moments as they all had to take shelter underneath the cars as they watched the feet of zombies pass them by. The rest of the 90-minute (more like 63 minutes without commercials) offered plenty of gore (that zombie gutting scene was vomit-inducing), more suspense, and palpable human drama. Even expecting a cliffhanger, I was caught by surprise by the ending--with a young girl still lost in the woods somewhere and a young boy shot in the stomach. Kids in danger off-the-bat... brutal. A-

Many critics eviscerated American Horror Story before it premiered citing the show's tendency to be completely over-the-top, outrageous, and incoherently messy. Color me surprised then when I watched the pilot and, while not completely disagreeing with the critics, still finding myself enjoying it a bit. Yes, it's weird and fucked up and the characters were kind of despicable and it's all over the place, but I really appreciated how it wasn't like anything I've seen before on TV. With that said, I'm curious as to how they'll be able to sustain this. It seems like this show would be more suitable as mini-series, but I guess time will tell to see how they can make it work (or not work). Still the cast is pretty good, the concept is intriguing as hell, and at worst I can drop it without feeling too guilty since it's seems like the kind of show where I don't have to worry about developing attachment to its characters (I like how that's a pro for this show). B-

Finally, I have to say the sixth season premiere of Dexter, while good for the most part, gave me a few apprehensions. First some of the things I liked. Whoever idea it was to put Dexter in a situation where he had to dance to "Hammer Time" deserves a raise. I also quite liked seeing Dexter having to interact with some of his high school classmates giving Michael C. Hall much to do. I also have high hopes for the addition of Angel's cousin as a supporting character. Everything else, meh. Never really connected with the Deb/Quinn and Laguerta/Angel relationships and since most of the rest of the episode was about them it left me unimpressed. There was also the heavy heavy heavy religious undertones throughout the episode hinting at the possible overarching theme of the season which, at the moment, doesn't really interest me. It could certainly be good, especially with Edward James Olmos and Colin Hanks as the possible Big Bads, but I worry that religion would make the show a bit more cumbersome that it's capable of handling. B

Are you watching any of these shows? Can The Walking Dead keep its premiere momentum or like last year have a lull in the middle? Is American Horror Story too weird? What do you think about the religious overtones on Dexter?


  1. I wish I could watch American Horror Story on TV but I don't have cable. The preview looks pretty good, might be the only thing Dylan McDermott does that slightly interests me, ahah.

  2. American Horror Story and The Walking Dead are my favorite shows! I love getting scared and thanks to DISH Network I get TV everywhere. As a DISH employee I can tell you that DISH even offers new customers a FREE Sling box.


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