The Week in TV: Zombies Still Very, Very Popular
It was a light but bloody week in TV Land:
• If you were hoping the zombie trend was winding down, I've got some bad news for you. The season premiere of AMC's The Walking Dead drew 7.3 million viewers when it aired at 9 p.m. ET on the 16th, and that number goes up to 11 million when you add the two repeats that aired later that night. The network also scored 4.8 million viewers in the 18-49 demo. Those are fantastic numbers for cable, too, and they shattered the audience for the series premiere last year. (To get even wonkier, the demo numbers were also record-setters for cable, far outpacing the 4 million in 18-49 that USA's The Dead Zone got in 2002.) Everybody loves them some zombies, it seems, even when those zombies come with cornball dialogue, horribly broad stereotypes and cheap last-minute shocks.
Fox wants in on that zombie action, too. The network is working on a TV version of the 2009 feature Zombieland, which starred Jesse Eisenberg and Emma Stone at their most adorably nonthreatening and dropped them into a postapocalyptic world that put the "fun" back in "fundamental breakdown of society." Interestingly, Zombieland began life as a TV pitch at CBS, who reportedly wanted more sunglasses and puns, before finding a temporary home at SyFy, who wanted more giant mythological creatures rendered with bad CGI and eating planes. The story could definitely work as a TV series, too. The Walking Dead has proven that you can get plenty of mileage just watching people try to survive, and it would be nice to see a ragtag band of survivors do more than just scowl at each other. The half-hour show might show up for the 2012-2013 season.
• Speaking of finding humor in awful situations: FX is developing Drones, a dark comedy about Nevada-based pilots who remotely control the drones that drop bombs on countries Herman Cain can't pronounce. The show comes from novelist Chad Kultgen, whose bitter output includes The Average American Male and The Lie, and Milo Ventimiglia, who hasn't smiled since 2003. Expect Drones to play like Generation Kill without all the hilarity.
• CBS is about to pull the trigger on full-season pickups for Person of Interest and Unforgettable, its two most popular freshman dramas. Person of Interest is the far better show, thanks to the presence of Michael Emerson and Jim Caviezel. It's not groundbreaking, and the concept (and opening voice-over) is straight out of 1980s primetime, but it's kind of like a cleaned-up version of action-movie comfort food. Unforgettable is about a female detective with a really good memory. Period. Your dad probably loves it.
• MTV, which never wastes an opportunity to exploit someone if they can help it, put out a casting call last week on Craigslist looking for people who "appear to be between the ages of 20-24" and are part of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Apparently, if you're unhappy with the staggering income and wealth divides in today's United States and are willing to sleep with strangers in hot tubs mere minutes after meeting them, you could find yourself in the steely embrace of Bunim-Murray Productions before you know it. Hotties only, of course. This is TV.
• The Punisher has never been a financially viable title outside of comic books. The 2004 movie made about $33 million domestically, while 2008's Punisher: War Zone topped out at $8 million and change. (The less said about the 1989 Dolph Lundgren version, the better. That man is too smart to make movies that dumb.) But that isn't stopping Fox from buying an hourlong drama based on the property from executive producer Ed Bernero of Criminal Minds. True to form from the man who brought you one of CBS's biggest procedural hits, the new Punisher will tweak the concept from that of a brutally violent vigilante waging a war of vengeance for his slain family to that of a "rising star detective" with the NYPD who moonlights as a rough-and-tumble crimefighter who seeks justice outside the system and blah blah blah. Also, to make the show gel thematically with the rest of Fox's lineup, the Punisher will have at least one musical sequence per episode in which the main character vents his anger through song and dance.
• NBC has already released the pilot episode of Grimm to those who follow the show on Twitter, and now they've put out a 20-minute preview from the episode for everyone to see. The show debuts Friday the 28th, but you can get an early glimpse here: