The current group of survivors in The Walking Dead (Mid-season Premiere, 9 p.m. Sunday, AMC) looks much different from the Atlanta camp introduced in 2010. New faces have emerged, many have been lost — whether at the mouths of the undead or the hands of one another — and those who remain represent the greatest change. Rick, Carl, Glenn and the others are grizzled, beaten and always on the brink of some catastrophe. Each day can bring yet another vicious walker hoard, the impending war with Woodbury (a picturesque neighboring compound with a deceivingly evil leader, the Governor) and even challenges in everyday survival, like finding food, clean water and medicine.
Sunday’s episode opens with Merle and Daryl Dixon in Woodbury’s arena, surrounded by a raving mob calling for a fight-to-the-death. The brothers — separated for some time, each likely believing the other had died — are reunited, after much anticipation from viewers, under the worst of circumstances. Each has grown close to their respective groups (Merle would have certainly died if not saved and “enhanced” by the Governor; Daryl has become Rick’s right-hand man) but it’s because of those loyalties that they now must face off in the ring. The outcome for fan favorite Daryl is unclear — viewers will riot if he gets the axe, but it’s clear the showrunners have no qualms about killing off popular characters.
Did you forget this was a zombie show? Sure, everyone loves a good walker-bashing scene, but it’s the human element of the series that elevates TWD as a critically acclaimed and commercially successful drama. Nerd Alert: Stay tuned for Talking Dead, now an hour long and immediately following the premiere at 10 p.m. Filmmaker and comic fan Kevin Smith and Steven Yeun (Glenn) will discuss the episode with host Chris Hardwick.
WEDNESDAY FEB. 6
Law and Order: SVU (9 p.m., NBC) – Benson reopens a murder case when she discovers the perp (real-life convicted rapist Mike Tyson), now on death row, had been sexually abused.
Workaholics (10 p.m., Comedy Central) – The guys head back to Rancho Cucamonga High, where they become engrossed in high school sports gambling.
Kroll Show (10:30 p.m., Comedy Central) – The ‘PubLIZity’ ladies take on a new client: yogurt water; Rich Dicks go shopping.
THURSDAY FEB. 7
Community (Season Premiere, 8 p.m., NBC) – The crew embarks on its fourth year at Greendale — the last for many of the students (including Pierce — Chevy Chase left the show after this season was filmed).
Glee (9 p.m., Fox) – From McKinley to the Big Apple, the Gleeks tap into their inner divas, with mixed results.
The Office (9 p.m., NBC) – Andy’s back! The staffers couple up to take advantage of Valentine’s Day discounts at the mall.
FRIDAY FEB. 8
Portlandia (9 p.m., IFC) – Peter and Nance host a soft opening for their B&B with friends; a magazine features a Portland furniture maker in its “Man Issue;” Steampunk convention!
SATURDAY FEB. 9
Oddities (Season Premiere, 9 p.m., Science) – Like Pawn Stars’ freakshow cousin, this series goes inside New York City’s Obscura Antiques & Oddities shop. For more weird, stay tuned for the new spin-off…
Odd Folks Home (Series Premiere, 9:30 p.m., Science) -– Get a peek into the homes of Obscura’s strangest patrons. Expect plenty of taxidermy and old timey torture devices.
SUNDAY FEB. 10
Grammy Awards (8 p.m., CBS) – LL Cool J returns to host the show with performances by Mumford & Sons, Rihanna (with Bruno Mars and Sting), Justin Timberlake, The Black Keys and more.
Girls (9 p.m., HBO) – Hannah sparks up a new romance with a shockingly stable, attractive doctor (Patrick Wilson). Adam: We miss you. Please come out of hiding/jail soon.
Shameless (9 p.m., Showtime) – Fiona tries to get the supermarket gang to stand up to their skeevy boss; Jimmy learns his father’s secret.
TUESDAY FEB. 12
State of the Union Address (9 p.m., ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC) – President Barack Obama addresses the 113th Congress with his priorities for 2013. Drinking Game Suggestion: Sip your congressional cocktail whenever O mentions job growth, gun control or reaching across party lines.
CONTACT JAC KERN : [email protected] or @jackern