If you've been Jonesing to find out what happens next in AMC's "The Walking Dead" like I have, your wait is almost done.
Season 3 kicks off Sunday night at 9 p.m. for an eight episode run (which will be followed by a second eight-episode run early in 2013).
When we last left our intrepid group of survivors, most of the main characters had fled Herschel's farm after it was overrun by walkers. There were casualties -- Rick and his son had to kill Shane in a final standoff -- and some members of Herschel's group didn't survive either. With few supplies and nowhere to go, we saw Rick finally lay down the law with the group and take control.
Meanwhile, Andrea, who got separated from the group, was rescued by a new character, Michonne, a popular character from the comics.
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This season sees Rick and company seeking refuge in a prison, while Andrea and Michonne meet the Governor (David Morrissey), another popular character in the comics, who runs a seemingly ideal village untouched by the carnage. Even Merle has found a home there.
There were some complaints last year that "Walking Dead" was too slow, but I thought the writers did a good job building the tension up to lead into the midseason and second-season finales. Certainly, finding Sophia in the barn with the walkers in the midseason finale was about as shocking a moment as it gets, and the carnage over the final three episodes -- the deaths of Dale and Shane, and the destruction of the farm -- amped up the tension.
At the end of the day, this show is one about the characters -- we care what happens to these people as they struggle to survive this horrific world. The series can't just be about killing zombies each week -- that gets old. But seeing the dynamic changes these characters undergo is why people keep tuning in.
"Walking Dead" will be followed at 11 p.m. by the call-in show "Talking Dead," which breaks down the episode, and the new season of "Comic Book Men."
WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: If you were one of the few people who endured "Made In Jersey," bad news -- it's been yanked from the schedule. However, "CSI: NY" and "Blue Bloods" are both new on CBS from 9-11 p.m.
"Fringe" (FX, 9 p.m.) continues to crank out the awesome, and "Grimm" is new on NBC.
On cable, "Boss" (STARZ, 9 p.m.) is new while "Strike Back" (MAX, 10 p.m.) wraps up its second season.
On Saturday, BBC America airs a new "Bedlam" at 9 p.m.
On Sunday, the only drawback about the return of "Walking Dead" is that it's yet ANOTHER thing to watch on an already busy Sunday.
CBS airs "The Amazing Race," "The Good Wife" and "The Mentalist," while ABC has "Once Upon A Time," "Revenge" and "666 Park Ave" from 8-11 p.m.
PBS has a new episode of "Call The Midwife," followed by the latest on "Upstairs, Downstairs" as part of "Masterpiece" (PBS, 9 p.m.)
On cable, BBC America continues with "Copper" at 10 p.m. HBO has "Boardwalk Empire" and "Treme" from 9-11 p.m., while Showtime counters with "Dexter" and "Homeland."