TV Review: ‘The Walking Dead,’ Season 6

The Walking Dead Season 6 TV
Courtesy of AMC

Picking up where season 5 left off, while embarking on new plots, “The Walking Dead” looks very much at the top of its game, with strong character material mixed with a massive set piece in the extended premiere made possible, no doubt, by its enormous popularity. Blessed and cursed with a vagabond mentality, the first episode finds the gang still trying to fit into a gated community, where the promise of security is balanced against the cultural clash separating the battle-hardened travelers from those sheltered within. Add one familiar face to the mix, and it’s a pretty irresistible feast.

Said face belongs to Lennie James, who appeared in the show’s early days, an actor who has a way of classing up whatever joint he visits. James’ Morgan turned up again at the close of last season, and having known Rick (Andrew Lincoln), the square-jawed sheriff, in those days when he could honestly proclaim, “We don’t kill the living,” it’s fascinating to see the character through his old pal’s eyes. James also has a couple of priceless little scenes with co-stars Melissa McBride and Danai Gurira, underscoring the gallows humor that’s found in this script from showrunner Scott M. Gimple and Matthew Negrete.

Of course, “Walking Dead” features a large ensemble, and has a way of shedding them when one least expects it. One of the challenges with this current crop is that they’re such a tough group it’s hard to see some of the more recent additions succumbing, and as with some of last season’s casualties, most fans would likely hate to lose them.

That said, the show has constantly reinvented itself by both shifting venues and turning over characters, a formula that has kept the program’s soap opera aspects fresh, even if the threat from marauding zombies remains continuous. The real treat in this episode, on that score, involves a detailed operation deftly chronicled in flashback, cutting back and forth between its implementing and planning.

Granted, “The Walking Dead” has a way of front-loading its seasons (witness last year’s spectacular escape from Terminus) and wrapping them up with major cliffhangers, while meandering a bit – sort of like a you know what – in between. What bodes somewhat better this time around is not only the return of James but the fact that the main cast can at least initially be found in the same place, creating interactions that tend to be lost when the group gets scattered. There’s also an intriguing dynamic in Rick especially trying to educate the community he’s inherited and its leader (Tovah Feldshuh), essentially preaching a maxim from the movie “Wyatt Earp,” in which the hero says, “This is a harsh land. It doesn’t suffer fools.”

In a perverse way, AMC’s experiment with spinoff “Fear the Walking Dead” only enhances the original, having demonstrated that even a zombie apocalypse can be rendered mundane and lifeless by plodding storytelling and weak characters. And while the ratings were unsurprisingly good enough to justify a renewal, those six weeks in L.A. have likely done nothing quite so much as stoke appetites for another gory helping of the real deal.

TV Review: 'The Walking Dead,' Season 6

(Series; AMC, Sun. Oct. 11, 9 p.m.)

Production

Filmed in Georgia by Circle of Confusion and Valhalla Entertainment.

Crew

Executive producers, Scott M. Gimple, Gale Anne Hurd, Robert Kirkman, David Alpert, Greg Nicotero, Tom Luse; co-executive producers, Denise Huth, Seth Hoffman, Angela Kang, Corey Reed; supervising producers, Matthew Negrete, Channing Powell; produces, Jolly Dale, Heather Bellson, Paul Gadd; director, Nicotero; writers, Gimple, Negrete; camera, Michael E. Satrazemis; production designer, Graham “Grace” Walker; editor, Dan Liu; music, Bear McCreary; casting, Sharon Bialy, Sherry Thomas, Gohar Gazazyan. 90 MIN.

Cast

Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohan, Chandler Riggs, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Michael Cudlitz, Lennie James, Sonequa Martin-Green, Alanna Masterson, Christian Serratos, Josh McDermitt, Seth Gilliam, Tovah Feldshuh, Ross Marquand, Alexandra Breckenridge, Austin Nichols

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  1. Brian says:

    Rick and glen better make it or after next week I’m done

  2. louie engelbrecht. says:

    I watch very little in the form of a series on tv.,but i was truly hooked on twd.,right from the get go.
    I must say that the casting went a long way towards making for a gripping experience,coupled of course with a good script,camera work,music and everything else.
    In short i love it,and cannot wait to meet up with my buddies again.
    Fear the walking dead,although i would not have missed an episode,just did not cut it for me.

  3. B A Kalin says:

    I totally agreed with everyone that feels about the walking dead that the writers, directors and actors are being overlooked for any Emmys or Golden Globes.

    This is my story, I wanted to do something with my 13 year old son at the time, who I could not get off his ex box and Wei, computer or phone. So one Sunday a year and half ago, he runs down stairs and yells I am watching The Walking Dead down here on the big TV. He did not even bring his phone!!!!! I was stunned. I sat down next to him, and asked what is this show about, he said the word zombie and said I am out of here. Then he said Mom it is not just about zombie’s you should watch it with me. Now keep in mind I was trying to figure out something I could do with him to spend quality time and since I am not a big football person, I said ok. When the episode started, they were in jail/prison, and this old man was on crutches half of his legs was missing. I ask my son who is he? What happen to his leg? Then there is scene with Rick he was planting stuff with his son Carl, and the old man with no leg, and a young girl who is holding a baby. I said who is our they? I thought his was about zombie? Who are all these people? Well you probably guessed my son being a male, said to leave and for me to watch the other seasons first, because I was asking why to many questions. So I zipped it, and smiled at him and finish that episode. And every Sunday after that I want down just me and him and watch the show. I started to figure out who was who, and who knew who. I was not hooked, but I could watch it, and I was watching it with my son. Again my son said go back and watch the other seasons. This season won’t start up again until February. I smiled and said sure, well thinking “oh my God shoot me”.

    Well long story short, one day I was working from home and put the first season on, you know for back ground noise, after the 3 episode, I was hooked. Maybe because I had watched season four, and could see the development of the characters from season 1 to season 4 was pretty dam impressive.

    I read that someone had written a comment, that the show is not deserving of an award because it is about a zombie’s. A fan reply back that is only 10% of this show. If the zombie part makes you not watch it, pretend it is a mob , a pledge, motor cycle gangs fighting them, take the zombie part away and open your eyes. YOU ARE MISSING SO MUCH MORE! THE WRITING, THE ACTING IS AMAZING!

    Like someone else said in the comments of The Walking Dead in regards to being shunned once again at he 2015 Emmy’s, They said the actor should not care about the Emmys, or about the academy awards. He is right in some way, the 1,700,000 plus viewers, are these incredible writers and actors AWARDS. But maybe these actors and writes for The Walking Dead would like to be appreciate by their fellow actors and writers, and be acknowledge that they are up there with Sopranos, Mad Men, Son Archery, Law and Order, just to name a few. All these shows have violence, drugs, rape, murder, some of these show the violence is beyond belief. You award shows found a way see the human part of the stories, and you honored all of those actors and writers with Emmys or Golden Globes. The Walking Dead, does not have the selling of drugs, no prostitution, gambling, no massive sex scenes, no gun selling, no strip bar. The Walking Dead is a show where a group of strangers who are thrown into a world that has no government, no one to say what is right wrong, a world that has set free, rapist, murders, the mental ill. A world where any person in this world can do, or be, or say or kill, or control, anything they want, without any punishment or anyone to stop them. These actors and writers have taken these characters and evolved them so magnificent over these last 6 years, that they at least deserves a nomination if not multiple awards.

    Andrew Lincoln plays a sheriff Rick Grimes, who was shot by some criminals in the real world (as we know it now) and want into a coma, wakes up months later, in hospital with no one there but dead bodies everywhere. He has no idea what has happen , he get outside and everyone is dead, more dead bodies everywhere. He makes it to his home, his wife and son are gone. A neighbor explains to him what has happen to the world. After he comes to realization of what has happen, he begins his search for the one thing that matter most to him, and most likely everyone in the present world, his family. Andrew Lincoln acting is on the same plane, and maybe higher, as Don Draper, Tony Soprano, Jax Teller. Andrew Lincoln creation of his character Rick Crimes, who has lived thru a hell, in a world that has beat him down, killed people he loved, destroyed homes he secured for his people/ his family. And on top of all those losses and struggles, he is battling constantly with himself, to maintain his humanity. He is a man who is boarding on losing all his empathy, but he pulls himself up again, he brings himself back over and over again. During all this, ANDREW LINCOLN (YOU KNOW HIS NAME HE IS AN ACTOR) not once during any of his performance does he deviate from his character Rick Grimes, he right on, he nails it every episode, oh yeah and he does 16 episodes a season.

    Norman Reedus, his character Daryl Dixon, he performance right on, just as good, as any of those actors you have given countless Emmys too. He was like the world as is now in the Walking Dead, a man that took what he wanted, did not care about other people, was planning to take over the camp in the first season with his brother. To man is now, a man who has empathy, who know how to love people and respects them. Who has become a true bothers with the character Rick Grimes. Brothers in the true definition of what that word means. The way that Norman Reedus, transform his character over the six season, to a person that the viewers now love and respect is amazing.

    Carol Melissa McBride has gone from a mousey women who was abused by her husband, who was banished by Rick to survivor on her own in this brutal work, to a women, who saved her people from a being brutal killed. She now realizes that she was always strong and is empower by the fact she was never weak, you want to see actor perform, evolve a character watch this show, her performance as just as good as Carmela Sopranos.

    Steven Yeun, his character Glen, he was pizza delivery guy in the city of Atlanta, when the world want to hell. Now he is know a leader, a young man who is battling, like Rick, try to keeping himself sane, walking that tightrope of the world that exist before and world that he lives in now. He is trying to hold onto what is right and wrong. He always been the good angel, the angel of reason for Rick, but in the season 5 he pushed to his very core. Steven Yeun , has created a character that every decent man can relate to, if he was thrown into the world the Glen has to survive in.

    Maggie, a women living on a farm in the 2nd season, protected from what the world has become. Believing that the walkers could be helped, to a women who can defend and fight anyone or anything the new world throws at her. And the best thing about Maggie she still finds a way to continue to keep herself sane, after losing her whole family, not only to zombie, but to humans that were evil. Maggie is still willing to try to believe in the human race, to help her people cope with what they are living thru. Her charter strength is God, her belief of God was instilled in her from her Father, Hersesal (DON’T GET ME STARTED ON THAT ACTOR). I could write something about every character, Carl, Michonne, and on and on

    These Shows below:
    The Sopranos
    Games of Thrones
    Son of Anarchy
    Ect…

    …all of these shows have 90% more violence and sex than the Walking Dead has every shown in the 5 years it has been on air. In the pass you have given multiply Emmy nomination and Golden Globes, awards to these writers, directors and actors. Is the message you are trying to send to the television viewer? Why are you not listening to the 1,700,000 plus viewers who are watching The Walking Dead. Why can’t you see what so many of these people see. The Walking Dead is a show that so many people love and can relate to these characters. Don’t you think any one that votes, or nominates actors, writers and directors for a television series, should at the least, give these writer and actors consideration for all their hard work, in what they have created that has touched so many Americans!

    . The point I am trying to say here, is that anyone sitting on an Emmy panel or Golden Globes panel, you all are doing yourselves injustice by not sitting down and really watching it. If you truly have not watch The Walking Dead, you are missing out on some most talent writing, directing and award winning acting. The strangest thing about this whole thing you gave them nomination for the creation of the zombies, sound effects and Emmy win for make up??? Really is that all you saw when you watch the show!! !!!!

    The writer and director of this show, HAVE DONE AN AMAZING JOB, season after season, touching and pulling at the human heart sting with Walking Dead. They have brought back communication without phones, talking face to face, struggling for what they need, food, water, housing. The write and directors of this show are all about humanity, love, loss, family, morality. The Walking Dead is like The Walton’s, you remember that show (good night John Boy) but with zombies, instead of the depression.

    This is just the two cents from a Mother who gets to spend every Sunday night for an hour with her teenage son, bonding, because of all the actors, directors and writers of The Walking Dead. If your industry does not recognize it, please know in your hearts, your 1,700,000 plus viewers do.

    • Margaret Suntz says:

      Thank you for you intelligent (and lengthy) comment … I enjoyed reading every word of it. I love the mother/son bonding story – so thank you for sharing that. Just want to mention Melissa was nominated as Supporting Actress this year … But for the past couple of years it’s been interesting that the national AM news show have NOTED that WD was passed up for noms! Now there’s a premiere tonight (10/0915) at Madison Square Gardens for Season 6 – yahoo and let me jump up like a cheerleader – supposedly 13,000 in attendance – but can you imagine the fans outside who can’t get in!

      I have to say Melissa/Carol has been may favorite since she took the opportunity to smash in Ed’s head after he was bitten … I know her development was slow, but man-o-man, loved the Rambo launch onto Terminus. I also loved/hated/feared/cried and agreed with her decision about Lizzy in “The Grove” … Still weep with Carol as she pulls the trigger … But I agree with her decision – then later on confessing to Tyresse she killed Karen – she was ready for him to execute her for that! (BTW: when she was making this confession to Tyresse at the little table in the cabin, there was a disassembled jigsaw on the table – turns out it was a REAL picture of the actress who played Sophie, Carol’S daughter. (Guess I love crazy minutea!)

      Hope to see your comments for Season 6.

    • Jason Grand says:

      I feel sorry for your son.

  4. Well… as a fan from episode 1 when it first aired, I really do hope they mix it up a bit this year and not go with the typical story arc they have been using. Can they *not* find a community that looks okay at first but then has serious issues. Just an idea. It may actually take me by surprise at that point.

  5. I was fortunate to meet both Greg Nicotero and Andrew Lincoln at the Saturn Awards this past June. Both men were very pleasant, pausing to take photographs with me, one making The Charlotte Observer (my hometown). We all won awards that evening, me as Executive Producer of Nightbreed: Director’s cut (along with Producer Mark Miller) for “Best Limited Edition DVD, The Walking Dead for “Best Cable Series” and Andrew Lincoln for “Best Actor”. As they were in the midst of Season 6, Nicotero and Lincoln flew out the following morning to resume production. Melissa McBride also received “Best Actress” for the series.

  6. phi says:

    Rarely in TV show history does a show come along like The Walking Dead not only has it pushed a boundaries of what can be done… it is the only show on TV that makes you feel like your part of what is going on on screen

    • Cindy Henley says:

      phi–I have been trying to think how this show draws in so many people (myself included) and you have described it perfectly! Thanks!

  7. Cindy says:

    You’re right about Fear. I’m watching but don’t know I’ll last. We’re all waiting for the real thing.

  8. mica gavino says:

    I love chandler riggs….i am from argentina…

    • Jose Roth says:

      Why do so many people from South America state where they are from? That’s just like two strikes right off the bat. Stop doing it. Yuck.

      • Ferdinand says:

        I think they are just telling readers that people from that country is watching the show too.

  9. Lorie younce says:

    I love the walking dead and all the main actors like Rick, Norman r. , Glenn, maggy, Carl, carol, mashone, etc the r great and now that they have Morgan I think it is going to be even better, maybe a little screw up at places but good, they gotta keep us at the edge of of couch!

  10. Kristina says:

    I agree with your article 100%! Just couldn’t get into Fear The Walking Dead. I couldn’t identify with the characters, sympathize or like them much. The Walking Dead however, hooked from day 1. Can’t wait for TWD season 6..it looks awesome.

  11. David says:

    FTWD is wisely playing the long game. Characters are not weak; they’re unknown. Give it time. The potential there is incredible. It’s unfolding really nicely.

  12. Francis turner says:

    I’m ok my way to New York Madison square gardens to see season 6 world premiere of TWD! I WON MY 2 FREE TICKETS!yeah BABY!

    • Rochelle Schwartz says:

      I won also but didn’t get emailed my tickets yet. They said there is a slight delay and I will receive them in a few days. Did you get your tickets or the same message of a delay?

      • Joan says:

        I’m going, too! Glad to see the responses about tickets going out tomorrow. Until I have them in my hand I won’t actually believe I’m going!!!!!

      • Emily says:

        We are working to make sure you have the best experience possible at The Walking Dead Fan Premiere at Madison Square Garden in NYC and we want to ensure you that your barcoded tickets will be emailed tomorrow, Friday, October 2nd by 11:59 pm EST.

        I just got emailed that an hour or so ago.

  13. spike says:

    Whoops! I always thought this was a series about either Congress or a movie studio

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