Not only did "The Walking Dead" have a great midseason finale Sunday night, but it was also one for the record books.
For the first time ever, a cable series outdrew the networks for the season in the coveted 18-49 viewership numbers, drawing a 5.4 for the season. That puts it ahead of such shows as "The Big Bang Theory," "Modern Family," "The Voice," and other popular shows.
In addition, the initial broadcast drew more than 10 million viewers, and about 15 million viewers in total watched the finale over the 9 p.m., 10 p.m. and midnight broadcasts.
The show is so popular that AMC is expanding the "Talking Dead" discussion show, hosted by Chris Hardwick, to an hour when both series return in February. "Talking Dead's" finale drew a healthy 2.2 million in the 11 p.m. timeslot.
"The Walking Dead's" midseason finale numbers were up a whopping 58 percent over last season's midseason finale, in which we learned the fate of Sophia.
What I like most is the short turnaround between the two halves of the season. Two months, especially the months of December and January which don't have a lot of fresh programming anyway, is not a long time to wait. That's especially true when you consider the interminable gaps for AMC's other hits, "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad."
ATTENTION: SPOILERS AHEAD FROM THE MIDSEASON FINALE:
Certainly, the producers pulled out all the stops in Sunday's episode, introducing the popular comics character Tyrese, setting up the reunion between Merle and Daryl, having the knock-down, drag-out fight between the Governor and Michonne (and helping the Governor transition into the character that's closer to the comics), and so forth.
The episode proved a worthy cap to what was a pretty stunning half-season so far, especially given the deaths of Lori and T-Dog and the birth of Judith. I can't wait until February to see what's next.
WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: Speaking of midseason finales, "Nashville" (ABC, 10 p.m.) caps a somewhat uneven first season (until the spring) tonight. If the show can jettison the political storylines and stick with the music business, it'd help maintain its dwindling audience. It follows new episodes of "The Middle," "The Neighbors," "Modern Family" and "Suburgatory."
Huntress appears once again on "Arrow," (CW, 8 p.m.), followed by a new "Supernatural" at 9 p.m.
"X-Factor" is new on Fox, while NBC airs "Whitney," "Guys With Kids," "Law & Order: SVU" and "Chicago Fire." CBS also is new with "Survivor," "Criminal Minds" and the Grammy nominations from 8-11 p.m.
On cable, there's a new "American Horror Story," (FX, 10 p.m.) Also, a Lizella couple is featured on the new reality series "Neat Freaks" (TLC, 10 p.m.)